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Latest Northern News.

Washington Intelligence — letters from Federal prisoners at the South--the arrest of Commissioners Slidell and Mason, &c.

The regularity with which communication is had between Norfolk and Fortress Monroe, by flags of truce, enables us to present our readers with the latest advices obtained through Northern papers. The Baltimore Sun, of the 20th inst., received by way of Norfolk, is the paper from which we copy this morning:

From Washington — important Circular from Secretary Chase with regard to the seizure of vessels.

Washington, Nov. 19.
--Secretary Chase has issued the following regulations, to be observed in regard to the seizure of vessels, made in pursuance of the 6th section of the act of July 13th, last:

  • 1st. All such seizures must be by the collector of Customs or other proper revenue officer, except in case of his absence or disability, or where immediate action is necessary and no such officer is at hand to make the seizures.
  • 2d. In all cases of seizure the collector, or other officer acting in his stead, shall notify the proper district attorney, who will at once institute proceedings for the condemnation of the vessel. After the commencement of such proceedings, if it shall appear to the satisfaction of the district attorney instituting them that the vessel is owned in part by persons not citizens of any State or part of State in insurrection against the United States, and not residing therein, and that she will not be employed in aiding the existing rebellion or in violating any law of the United States, the vessel may be discharged on bail being given, according to the course of admiralty proceedings for the shares owned by any person or persons residing in any such insurgent State or part of State, in which case the proceedings so instituted will be prosecuted without delay to the condemnation and sale of such insurgent interest; and as to the remainder of the vessel the forfeiture thereof will be remitted.
  • 3d. Should there be any unusual delay in the commencement of such proceeding, or should there be any other circumstances rendering it proper, in the judgment of the collector or other officer acting in his stead, that the vessel should be released from custody before the commencement of proceedings, the same may be done provided the collector shall be satisfied that no such improper use as before mentioned is to be made of said vessel, and one or more of the owners residing in loyal States shall give a bond, with sufficient sureties, to the United States, in double the value of the share or shares thereof owned in any such insurgent State, with a condition that the vessel collector or other officer in whose custody she may be, within such time as he shall direct, and without any change in the ownership of said share or shares, and with the further condition that any vessel shall at all times be subject to any order or decree of the court in which any proceedings for her condemnation may be instituted, or of any appellate court to which the same may be removed; and with the further condition that any costs or other moneys which shall be awarded by either of the said courts in said proceedings shall be paid, together with such other conditions as the collector or other officer shall deem just and expedient, in order to secure the object contemplated by the fact aforesaid.--The execution of such bond and the discharge of the vessel shall not delay the institution or prosecution of proceedings for the condemnation of the insurgent interest; but the same shall be commenced and prosecuted in all respects, so far as practicable, in the same manner as if the vessel still remained in the custody of the officer. The District Attorney will notify the collector or other officer making the seizure in his stead of the commencement of the suit, of the result of the trial, and of the time of sale, if the sale be ordered.

From across the Potomac — the attack on Federal pickets near Falls Church.

Washington, Nov. 19.
--Mention was made in a previous dispatch of a skirmish yesterday afternoon, two miles and a half southwest of Falls Church, since which time additional particulars have been ascertained. The charge upon our pickets near Brushe's house was made by 300 or more rebel cavalry, and this occasioned the stampede.

There was heavy firing on both sides, our men gallantly standing their ground until they were compelled to retreat to the reserve, in consequence only of the superior force and the cavalry advance of the enemy, who, as was yesterday stated, fell back on the advance of our reinforcements. The charge of the rebel cavalry was made on the pickets of Company H, 14th Brooklyn Regiment.

The following are the names of the killed; Privates Seymour and Walter Taylor; mortally wounded, private William Stricker; missing, Lieutenant Gummar, Sergeant McNell, privates W. A. Judden, Daniel McCamley, George Roler, E. Rich, T. F Rich, William Cambell, Clinton Potter, and Nathaniel Lyon.

This morning a strong force was sent out by order of General McDowell to the neighborhood where the skirmish took place. The dead bodies of Seymour and Taylor were found stripped of their clothing and their skulls mashed in as if done by the butt of a carbine. No other wounds were visible, and it is, therefore, supposed the men were beaten to death.

A woman living in the vicinity stated that the rebels carried away three of their own dead, together with six wounded. From her description of the uniform, two of the latter belonged to the Brooklyn company.

The arrest of Messrs. Mason and Slidell.

‘"Ion,"’ the special Washington correspondent of the Baltimore Sun, dated Nov. 19th, says:

‘ The arrest of the Confederate envoys on board a British packet will serve as a test of the disposition of the British Government towards the Federal Government in the present contest. They can, if they please, make it a pretext for a quarrel, if their policy render a rupture desirable. The British journals show that the public mind is deeply agitated by the distress which threatens, if it has not actually invaded, the manufacturing districts, and a popular clamor for the restoration of the American cotton trade will probably arise in the course of the winter. A mere recognition of the Confederate States would neither arrest the war nor raise the blockade, nor derive a supply of cotton. Enggland, therefore, must hazard a war for a cotton supply, unless she can obtain it by a more convenient and direct process.

It is probable that she will resort first to amicable negotiations with the Federal Government, and it is believed that assurances have already been given, through our Minister, Mr. Adams, that free access to the cotton ports should be given, this winter, to British vessels.

The traditionary policy of the United States does not permit the search of vessels except as a belligerent right, on the high seas, and whether it is safe to abandon our own maritime principles for the sake of a temporary advantage, may be doubtful. Hereafter our long-settled policy may work in our favor. But if we adopt British precedents, the capture of the Ministers would find ample justification.

In 1779, Henry Laurens, President of Congress, was sent as Minister to Holland and, on his passage, in a Congress packet, (not a neutral bottom,) he was taken prisoner by a British frigate, and was confined in the Tower of London. His papers showed the nature of his mission, exhibited a friendly disposition towards us on the part of Holland, and produced a rupture between England and that power. It is supposed that the papers of Messrs. Slidell and Mason may exhibit facts showing that their mission was not unexpected, and would be received with favor. If that prove to be so, preparations for the defence of New York and other Atlantic cities may not be premature.

Federal prisoners in the South--their condition and treatment — interesting letters.

The Philadelphia papers contain numerous extracts from letters received in that city within a day or two from the Federal prisoners at Richmond who were captured at the battle of Ball's Bluff, near Leesburg. The letters give a full account of the battle, and the names of the prisoners taken, and although acknowledging the good treatment at the hands of their captors, the writers hope for a speedy release through an exchange of prisoners. The details of the battle contained in the letters add nothing to what is already known. We make the following extracts, however:

Letter from Lieut, Hooper.

After we lost the day there was no alternative left but to surrender or swim the river, but in so doing we would have left the company in the hands of the enemy. We concluded we would be taken prisoners rather than leave our commands, although the retreat had been sounded. Lieut. Johnston swam across the river safely, I believe. There were a great many who were shot whilst endeavoring to swim the river, and I have no doubt that many were drowned.

The fight was a very severe one. There were about 1,300 men engaged on our side, which the enemy have magnified into 10,000, while they set down their force at 2,500. We understood, before we crossed, that it was 4,000. * * * *

There were from five to six hundred of us taken prisoners and conveyed to Leesburg, which place we left for Manassas the same night about twelve o'clock, arrived there on Wednesday morning about ten o'clock. We left Manassas the same evening for Richmond, and arrived here about six o'clock on Thursday morning. We are quartered in a large tobacco warehouse, where the prison ers taken at the battle of Bull Run are quartered. The accommodations are not equal to those of the Continental, but they might be much worse than they are. We are furnished with rations of bread and fresh meat daily, both of which are exceedingly good; and no one is in any danger of starving. For extras we will form messes and get whatever we can as long as our money holds out.

The drawing setting apart certain prisoners to be dealt with in the same manner as the captured privateersmen at the North, took place on the 10th inst. Lieut. Hooper says that the prisoners are of the opinion that the privateersmen will not be hung.

Letter from Wm. C. Harris.

* * * My prison associates are gentlemen from nearly every State in the North and West, whose heels or heads could not prevent them from being captured at Bull Run, Ball's Bluff, etc., etc. Thrown together as we are, many are the resources we have for abstracting amusement from the monotony of prison life. As I sit now at ‘"our mess"’ table, I cast a glance around, and photograph the following picture:

On my right, within reaching distance, sit silently engrossed in cards, a captain from Pennsylvania, a lieutenant each from Maine, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Ohio. Further on two army chaplains are quietly discussing the past, present and future religious condition of the world in general, and, for aught I know, their own present unfortunate condition in particular.

A few steps more to the right, and we find Lieutenant Peacock, of the steamer Fanny, captured by the Confederates at Chicamacomico. He is surrounded by a colonel, a quartermaster and a doctor whose attention he is engrossing by an animated relation of the Fanny's surprise and capture. His description is graphic, and sometimes illumined with touches of humor that convulses his audience. More of him anon, for he is the bright particular star of our ‘ "Confederacy."’ Looking straight before me, I see Congressman Ely bending over his ‘"mess"’ table, seemingly buried in the mass of documents around him. --Every day, for hours, he is occupied with his pen, assisted by young Hale, of the Navy (a nephew of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy,) who has volunteered as his Secretary. Ely is a man of fine social qualities, popular and gentlemanly, and has the distinguished honor of being President of the Richmond Prison Association.

To his left may be seen the fine manly form and handsome face of Colonel Cogswell, of the regular army, who is pacing to and fro in deep study. Upon him devolved the command after General Baker's death, at the battle of Ball's Bluff. He is reserved, but is possessed of many qualifications that command respect and esteem from his prison associates.

Near me, on the left, may be seen the slight yet agile figure of Colonel Lee, of the 20th Massachusetts, (taken at Ball's Bluff,) who is earnestly engaged in conversation with two visitors, one of whom, I hear, is the Episcopal Bishop of Virginia; the other a divine of note from the same State. Colonel Lee has a warmth and earnestness of manner which endears him not only to his brother officers, but interests all who come within the sound of his genial voice. He is beloved by the junior officers of his command, four of whom are prisoners here, preferring to share his fate rather than desert him when our hard-fought battle was over.

I could occupy pages describing the varied characters of my fellow-prisoners. Each have their distinctive grades in our social circle, yet none, in my three weeks experience, have caused a jar or created discord in the good fellowship of our community.

You are aware that both Governments exercise the privilege of reading our letters, and I fear that I have already fatigued the patience of some unknown reader by the length of my letter. But I will often write to you during my sojourn in the sunny South, always premising that my letters are promptly answered by you.

Letter from Lieut. Sloanaker.

The prisoners of Company H are under the charge of Lieut. Bradford, formerly a clerk in the U. S. Mint, in Philadelphia, a brother-in-law of Ex-Senator Brodhead, of the same city, and a nephew of Jefferson Davis, and now commanding a company of Mississippians at Richmond, doing guard duty at the ‘"Tobacco Factory."’

Letter from Col. Lee.

A letter has been received in Washington by Capt. Chas. Coudy, Assistant Adjutant General to Gen. Sanders's Brigade, from Col. Lee, of the 20th Massachusetts regiment now a prisoner at Richmond. Col. Lee states that he and the other imprisoned officers, there have been very kindly treated, and makes inquiries as to the disposition made of the enemy captured at Ball's Bluff. The rebels say that fewer of the Massachusetts officers would have been killed had they not have been too proud to surrender.

Federal prisoners at Charleston.
letters from Col. Corcoran

We make the following extracts from letters from Col. Corcoran, of the New York 69th regiment, now in confinement at Castle Pinckney, S. C. He was captured, it will be remembered, at Bull Run, and is held as a hostage for Smith, convicted of piracy in Philadelphia. Col. C. says:

‘ In my last I mentioned that the people of Charleston had treated us with considerable courtesy on the occasion of our arrival in and departure from that city, but neglected to state another favorable change in our treatment here. The officers have the liberty of the island on which the castle is situated, from reveille to retreat, and are allowed on the ramparts until tattoo. The rank and file are allowed the liberty of the interior yard during the aforesaid hours. This is quite a change from Virginia hospitality, where we had not been permitted one moment for air or exercise during the fifty days of our detention in the ever memorable tobacco factory, and without bedding of any kind.

The Bishop of this place visited me and spoke in that mild, gentlemanly, and Christian spirit for which all our clergy everywhere, and under all circumstances have been so truly characterized. He handed me all the funds in his possession, and of which I stood in the greatest need, and appointed to come here last Thursday to celebrate mass and attend to the religious necessities of the prisons; but the day proved so wet and stormy that it was impossible, without imminent danger, to cross over from the city, but we expect him at his earliest convenience. This is the first time that any apparent interest has been taken of our spiritual welfare.

The small-pox is prevailing to a great extent at Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Information has been received at Fort Smith, Arkansas, that there continues to be considerable excitement in the Creek country about Opothleyoholo, who is still out on the scout. It is feared that he may get with the Northern Army.

The good sisters of our faith residing in Richmond, (who thank God, can rise above all national or sectional strife and contention of the world, with their usual and self-sacrificing and Christian disposition to render aid and comfort to the afflicted.) attended to such of our wounded as were at the general hospital; and our officers and men who were there, and who represent all classes of religion, are unanimous in their praise of the care and attention bestowed in dressing and cleaning the wounded, and many attribute their recovery to their untiring exertions.

’ In another letter, Col. Corcoran writes as follows:

‘ The prisoners here who left Richmond on the 13th ult., consist of thirty-four officers and 120 non-commissioned officers and privates; among the former are three Colonels, a Lieutenant-Colonel and a Major.

This place is already well known, therefore needs no description. The casemates are occupied as quarters. As no visitors are allowed here, we are not so subjected to the idle and offensive curiosity of spectators, as was the case at Richmond, where crowds were permitted to assemble in front of our prison to stare at us all day whenever we went to catch a breath of air at the windows, when the more favored individuals obtained passes to enter, and in many cases took occasion to ask all kinds of questions. Indeed, the people of Charleston presented a striking contrast in gentlemanly behavior towards us on our arrival and departure; although large numbers were present on both occasions, not a single offensive word was spoken or act committed.

We are all here in great need of clothing, and in many cases without a single cent to procure any of the different things essentially necessary. I received some funds from a relative in Richmond, which have been expended, and Lieutenant Connolly and myself are among the bankrupts for some days past. I am well satisfied, there are some in Charleston who would divide their last dollar with me, but I cannot accept it, as there appears to be no possible way of repaying, perhaps for years. Indeed, some gentlemen were so kind as to make inquiry if I needed anything, to which I replied in the negative; and while at Richmond I received a communication from a gentleman from Montgomery, Ala., who is said to be one of the wealthiest gentlemen in that city, stating that he was most desirous of supplying me with anything I required.

I am quite satisfied to remain here as long as it may be considered necessary to serve the purposes of my Government or our people; but I am exceedingly anxious that the rank and file of the different regiments should be seen to as soon as possible. The poor fellows are all most earnestly devoted to the best interests of their country, and are suffering much from want of proper clothing or any changes of under garments. Many are without shoes, coats or bed covering, which is a cheerless prospect, with the near approach of cold weather; and, above all things, their poor families, in many cause, must certainly suffer from want of the assistance they could render if at liberty, and many are of the three months volunteers, who made no provision for absence beyond that time, and whose future welfare depends upon their return at the very earliest period.

The late fight near Piketon, Ky.

The details of the battle at Piketon, Ky., which reach us by mail differ very materially from the first telegraphic reports of that affair. The Cincinnati Gazette has the following letter:

Piketon, Pike County, Ky., Nov. 11. --In my letter of last Thursday, I stated that the Thirty-third Ohio and a battalion of flanking companies under Major Hart, had started for this place, and that we were to follow in the afternoon. The difficulty in getting the wagons, containing our provisions, over the river, detained us so much that we did not get off until the next morning. The division was composed of the Second, Twenty-first, Fifty-ninth, and Col. Marshall's incomplete regiment. Gen. Nelson took command in person.

We had marched about ten miles, when a few shots were fired at our advance. We halted, and were formed into line, but as only a few of the rebels were discovered, and they beyond the range of the muskets, nothing was done. Again we took up the line of march, and had advanced probably three miles, when a volley from an unseen enemy let us know that ‘"bush whacking" ’ had commenced in earnest. Few positions could have been selected better adapted for surprising and entrapping an army. The road lies at the foot of an almost perpendicular hill or mountain side, with the river close by. There was just curve enough to expose our whole line to their fire. The greater part of their force was stationed on a ridge at the further end of the pass.

The remainder were secreted in a cornfield on the opposite side of the river. We afterward learned that they numbered 740--615 infantry and 125 cavalry. Col. Marshall's men had been scouring the hills, but for the last three miles the march had been so rapid that they had only time to keep in advance of the division. Ha more time been taken the skirmishers could have discovered the ambuscade before the troops had entered the pass. As it was, the advance companies were almost directly under the rebels when they opened their fire.

Orders were immediately given for us to ascend the hill, and by advancing around the ridge to get above and, if possible, in the rear. Before this could be done, however, the vigorous fire of our troops and some well directed shells thrown by Captain Conklin's battery had entirely dispersed them, with a loss of thirty-two killed and about the same number wounded. Our loss was four killed and twenty four wounded. Two of the latter have since died. Colonel Marshall's men suffered most severely. He himself had his horse shot under him, and a ball passed through his coat.

The writer states that subsequently the Federal troops took possession of the town without serious opposition, and so ended the expedition again Preston.

Release of British Minors in the army.

From the Philadelphia Press, of the 19th, the following item is extracted:

‘ An arrangement is about to be entered into by which all the British minors who have enlisted in the American army are to be returned to their homes. Many of these youngsters have volunteered from Canada, and as Lord Lyons is not now in the very best of humors, he has demanded that they shall be returned. The Secretary of War and the Secretary of State have graciously condescended to access to his request.

Confiscation of Northern property at the South, etc.

Washington, Nov. 19.
--Intelligence has just been received of the confiscation of a considerable amount of property in South Carolina belonging to Northern citizens, among whom is included Hiram Walbridge, of New York.

The guards have been withdrawn from the residence of Judge Merrick, who has resumed his seat on the Circuit Court bench.

John R. Myrick has been appointed Second Lieutenant of the Third Artillery.

Troops tendered to the Government.

Washington, Nov. 19.
--Tender of troops continue to be made to the War Department, and it is probable that before the meeting of Congress the half million of men authorized to be accepted will be supplied. Offers of additional regiments of cavalry are declined, owing to a sufficiency of that branch of the army.

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