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Doc. 130.-Secretary Seward's circular.

Circular no. 39.

Department of State, Washington, August 12.
sir: Whenever the United States have complained of the premature decrees of Great Britain and France, which accorded the character of a belligerent to the insurgents, the statesmen of [440] those countries have answered, that from the first they agreed in opinion that the efforts of the Government to maintain the Union, and preserve the integrity of the Republic, could not be successful. With a view to correct this prejudgment of so vital a question, I addressed a circular letter to the representatives of the United States in foreign countries on the fourteenth day of April, 1862, in which I reviewed the operations of the war on sea and, land, and presented the results which had attended it down to that period. The prejudice, which I then attempted to remove, still remains, and it constitutes the basis of all that is designedly or undesignedly injurious to this country in the policy of foreign nations. The insurgents have been enabled to protract their resistance by means of sympathy and aid they have received from abroad, and the expectation of further and more effective foreign assistance is now their chief resource. A new effort, therefore, to correct that prejudice is demanded equally by a prudent concern for our foreign relations, and by the paramount interests of peace and humanity at home.

In the battles of August, 1862, the Union forces suffered some severe and appalling reverses. But they resulted in the reunion of the army which had been called in from the Peninsula, below Richmond, with the army which had its position between that strongly fortified seat of the insurrection and this capital. The wisdom of this reunion was soon to be vindicated. The insurgent army, flushed with its recent successes, and expecting that a sympathetic interest of slavery would produce an uprising of the people of Maryland in its favor, for the first time crossed the Potomac River. Harper's Ferry, with many prisoners, fell into its hands, rather through accidents in preparing its defence, than because it was indefensible. Nevertheless, the expectation of recruits signally failed. General McClellan, commanding the now consolidated forces of the Army of the Potomac, was reenforced by fresh levies from Pennsylvania, and by detachments called in from neighboring forts. He drove the insurgents from their positions at South-Mountain and Crampton's Gap. About the middle of September the two opposing armies confronted each other at Sharpsburgh, and a pitched battle was fought on the banks of the Antietam and Potomac. It was well sustained on both sides. Men of one race and training directed the armies whose rank and file were substantially of one blood, and even nearly equal in numbers. The arrogant assumption of superior valor and heroism which the insurgents had brought into the contest, and had cherished throughout its early stages, perished on that sanguinary field. The insurgent army, shattered in the conflict, abandoned the invasion of Maryland, and sought refuge and opportunity to recover its wasted strength in Virginia, behind its accustomed barrier — the Potomac.

While Lee was thus attempting Maryland, the equally bold and alarming enterprise of carrying the war through Kentucky into Ohio, was assigned to Bragg, who was in command of the insurgent army on the southern border of Tennessee. He, with great rapidity, moved from Chattanooga, turning the left flank of General Buell, and, appealing for reenforcements to the slaveryinspired sentiments which existed in Kentucky and Tennessee, directed his forces against Louisville and Cincinnati. An uprising of the farmers of Ohio confronted and turned away the devastation from the latter city. General Buell followed the main column of invasion, outmarched it on the way to Louisville, and obliged it to take a direction eastward. The two insurgent columns being united at Perryville, were attacked by General Buell. The battle, like all of our contests, was obstinate and bloody. Bragg, after severe losses, retreated through a comparatively barren region, and Buell was obliged to abandon the pursuit, by the complete exhaustion of all sources of supply. The insurgent commander crossed the Cumberland Mountains, and then, marching westward, took up a position at Murfreesboro, fortified them, and proceeded to recruit his wasted forces.

Van Dorn and Price were at the same period in command of very considerable forces in Mississippi and Alabama, and to them was assigned the third part in the grand invasion of the loyal States, which the cabal at Richmond had decreed. This was an attempt, as they called it, to deliver, but in fact to subjugate Western Tennessee and Kentucky. General Rosecrans received the assault of those portions of the insurgent forces at Corinth, defeated them with great slaughter, and drove them backward, so that they neither reached nor approached the region which they were appointed to invade. General Rosecrans, called to succeed General Buell in command of the army of the Cumberland, then entered Nashville, which the insurgents had before invested, in carrying out their general scheme of invasion. He raised the siege, and prepared for offensive action. In the last days of the year he issued from Nashville and delivered a sanguinary battle at Stone River, which gave him possession of Murfreesboro. Bragg retreated to Shelbyville and Tullahoma, and there again rested and intrenched. A long period of needed rest was now employed by the respective parties in increasing the strength and efficiency of their armies; but this repose was broken by frequent skirmishes, and by cavalry expeditions, which penetrated hostile regions, sometimes hundreds of miles, and effected breaches of military connections and a destruction of military stores upon an extensive scale, while they kept up the spirit of the troops, and hardened them for more general and severe con. flicts.

Vicksburgh then remained in the hands of the insurgents, the principal key to the navigation of the Mississippi River, a navigation which was confessed on all sides to be absolutely essential to the United States, and, when reopened by them, fatal to the insurrection. The duty of wresting that key from the insurgents had been devolved on the navy, with the aid of a considerable [441] land force then encamped on the west bank of the Mississippi River. But new and unforeseen difficulties continually baffled the enterprise, and seemed to render it impossible. General Grant, who was at the head of the department and of the army of the Tennessee, at length assumed the active command of the troops investing the stronghold, and these were adequately reenforced. The naval squadron on the Mississippi, under command of Rear-Admiral Porter, was also steadily increased until more than one hundred armed vessels were employed upon the river, including many iron-clad gunboats of great power. Part of the Gulf Squadron, under Admiral Farragut, gallantly running the batteries of Port Hudson, under a fierce fight, cooperated with the river fleets. Laborious and persevering attempts were made to open an artificial channel for the river opposite Vicksburgh, as had been done with such signal success at Island No.10. But the various canals, projected and executed, failed, and only a few small steamers, of no considerable power, were thus enabled to pass the city. Combined land and naval expeditions were also sent forth, which, with infinite pains and endurance, attempted to turn the enemy's works by navigating the various bayous and sluggish rivers, whose intricate network forms so singular a feature of the military topography of the banks of the Mississippi. All these attempts having failed from physical obstacles found to be insurmountable, General Grant and Admiral Porter at last put afloat armed steamers and steamtransports, which ran through the fires of the long line of shore batteries which the insurgents had crected at Vicksburgh, and its chief supports, Warrenton and Grand Gulf. At the same time the land forces moved down the right bank of the river to a point below Grand Gulf, where they crossed in the steamers which had effected so dangerous a passage. The batteries of Grand Gulf for several hours resisted a bombardment by the gunboats at short-range, but they fell into the hands of the Admiral as soon as General Grant's forces appeared behind them. General Grant, through a series of brilliant manoeuvres, with marches interrupted by desperate battles day by day, succeeded in dividing and separating the insurgent forces. He then attacked the chief auxiliary column under Johnston, and drove it out of Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. Having destroyed the railroad bridges and military stores there, General Grant turned at once to the west. Numerous combats ensued, in all of which the loyal arms were successful. Loring, with a considerable insurgent force, was driven off toward the south-east, while Pemberton, after a loss of sixty pieces of artillery and many prisoners, regained his shelter within the fortified lines of Vicksburgh, with an army now reduced to between thirty thousand and forty thousand men. During these movements the heavy batteries of the insurgents which were established near the mouth of the Yazoo River, and which constituted an important part of the defensive system of Vicksburgh, were taken and raised by Rear-Admiral Porter, who thereupon sent a detachment of his fleet up that important tributary of the Mississippi, and effectually destroyed the numerous vessels and stores which were found within and upon its banks. General Grant, during these brilliant operations, had necessarily operated by a movable column. He now reestablished his communications with the river fleets above as well as below Vicksburgh, invested the town, and, ignorant of the numbers inclosed within its defences, attempted an assault. Though bravely and vigorously made, it was nevertheless unsuccessful. He thereupon sat down before the fortifications, to reduce them by the less bloody but sure methods of siege. Pemberton made a gallant defence, hoping for relief from Johnston. Strenuous efforts were made by the chiefs at Richmond to enable Johnston to render that assistance. They detached and sent to him troops from Bragg's army on the frontier of Alabama, and from Beauregard's command in South-Carolina, and in doing this they endangered both those armies. All the capable free men of Mississippi were called to the rescue of the capital of their State, and to save the stronghold of the treasonable Confederacy which was besieged within their limits. Moreover, the besieged post was in the very centre of the slave population of that Confederacy, and the President's proclamation of freedom would be sounded in their hearing if the stronghold should fall. But the effort required was too great for the demoralized and exhausted condition of the insurgents. Johnston did not arrive to raise the siege, nor did success attend any of the attempts from within to break the skilfully drawn lines of General Grant. On the fourth of July, General Pemberton laid down his arms and surrendered the post, with thirty thousand men, two hundred pieces of artillery, seventy thousand small arms, and ammunition sufficient for a six years defence. This capture was as remarkable as the famous one made by Napoleon at Ulm.

On the same day an insurgent attack upon General Prentiss, at Helena, situated on the west bank of the Mississippi, in the State of Arkansas, was repulsed with the loss of many prisoners on the part of the assailants. As if the anniversary so identified with the nation's hopes was appointed to be peculiarly eventful, Lee, who had again entered Maryland, and, passing through that State, had approached the Susquehanna, threatening Harrisburgh, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, fell back, after pitched battles continued for three days at Gettysburgh, and resumed his retreat, with an army even worse shattered than before, to his accustomed position on the Rappahannock.

On the eighth of July, the insurgent garrison at Port Hudson, six thousand strong, after enduring a long siege with the utmost courage, surrendered unconditionally to General Banks; and thus the United States recovered from the insurgents the last of the numerous posts by which, for more than two years, they had effectually destroyed the navigation of the Mississippi. [442] This great river, which in time of peace contributes relatively as much toward a supply of the increased wants of mankind as the Nile did to those wants in the time of the Roman Empire, is now again opened to the inland commerce of the country. Steamers descend the river and its tributaries from the navigable floods to the Gulf of Mexico. It is not to be doubted that the insurgent losses in these operations upon the Mississippi amount to fifty thousand men and three hundred pieces of artillery, a large portion of which were of heavy calibre. Johnston's army, which, at the time of the surrender, was advancing to threaten the besiegers, at once fell back to Jackson, and it was again driven from that capital by a detachment which General Grant had committed to the command of General Sherman. In retiring, Johnston fired many buildings filled with munitions of war, and abandoned a large quantity of railroad locomotives and cars, which had been detained at that place by reason of the railroads north, south, east, and west of Jackson having been previously cut by the Government forces.

General Sherman now desisted from the pursuit of Johnston and returned to Vicksburgh, where a portion of the army is enjoying repose, not. more necessary than well earned, while others are engaged in expelling from the vicinity of the Mississippi roving bands of the insurgents, who infest its banks and fire from thence upon passing steamers. It is reported that Johnston, with the troops at his command, now said to be twenty-five thousand, has fallen back to Meridian, on the eastern border of the Mississippi, a hundred and twenty miles east of Vicksburgh, so that the State, whose misguided people were among the earliest and most intemperate abettors of the insurrection, is virtually abandoned by its military agents.

In Louisiana, General Banks succeeded General Butler. After spending some months in organizing the department and disciplining the new levies which constituted its force, General Banks made a rapid and successful series of marches and contests, in which he drove the insurgent troops out of the Attakapas and Teche regions, well known as the richest portions of that very productive State, captured Alexandria and Donaldsonville, the seats of its fugitive seditious executive and legislative authorities, crossed the Mississippi at Bayou Sara, and there receiving an additional column which was ascending from Baton Rouge, invested Port Hudson, which, excluding Vicksburgh, was the only remaining stronghold of the insurrection on the great river.

It will be remembered that on the twenty-second day of September, 1862, the President issued a proclamation requiring the insurgents to lay down their arms and return to their allegiance, under the penalty that in all the districts where the insurrection should be still maintained with the support of the people, he would on the first of January then next proclaim, as a military measure, the freedom of the slaves. The warning was generally rejected and defied, but the proclamation which it heralded was duly issued. As the National armies advanced into the insurrectionary territories, slaves in considerable numbers accepted their freedom and came under the protection of the National flag. Amidst the great prejudice and many embarrassments which attended a measure so new and so divergent from the political habits of the country, freedmen with commendable alacrity enlisted in the Federal army. There was in some quarters a painful inquiry about their moral capacity for service. That uncertainty was brought to a sudden end in the siege of Port Hudson. The newly raised negro regiments exhibited all necessary valor and devotion in the military assaults which were made, with desperate courage, and not without fearful loss, by General Banks. This protracted operation engaged nearly all General Banks's available forces. While it was going on, insurgent troops which were called up from Texas reoccupied much of the south-western portion of Louisiana, which he had before reclaimed. The surrender of Port Hudson, however, set his army at liberty, and he has already made considerable progress in restoring the national authority thus temporarily displaced.

The complete occupation of the Mississippi by the national forces has effectually divided the insurrectionary region into two parts, and among the important features of this division, one which is of the highest practical significance is, that the field of military operations of the insurrection is chiefly on the eastern side of the river, while its supplies have been mainly drawn from the prairies of Arkansas and Texas, which stretch away from the western shore. These prairies can no longer supply the insurgents with cattle for sustenance and use in the field, and, on the other hand, arms, ordnance, and ammunition can no longer be sent from the eastern manufactories and deposits to forces employed or in garrison in the West. The value of the acquisition of the Mississippi in this respect was illustrated only a few days since in the capture by General Grant, near Natchez, of five thousand beeves and two thousand mules, which had crossed to the eastern bank, and at the same time many hundred thousands of cartridges and other stores which had just been landed at the western end of the same ferry.

A vigorous blockade has been maintained at Charleston, and although fast steamers, of light draught and painted with obscure colors, occasionally succeed in slipping through the blockading squadron in the morning and evening twilight, many are destroyed and more are captured. An attack by the fleet, made on the seventh day of April last, upon the forts and batteries which defend the harbor, failed because the rope obstructions in the channel fouled the screws of the iron-clads and compelled them to retire after passing through the fire of the batteries. Those vessels bore the fire of the forts, although some defects of construction were revealed by the injuries they received. The crews passed through [443] an unexampled cannonade with singular impunity. Not one life was lost on board of a Monitor. The defects disclosed have been remedied, and an attack is now in progress, with good prospects of ultimate success, having for its object the reduction of the forts in the harbor by combined sea and land forces. We occupy more than one half of Morris Island with land forces, which, aided by batteries afloat and batteries ashore, are pushing siege-works up to Fort Wagner, a strong earthwork which has been twice assaulted with great gallantry, but without success. On the seventeenth of June, the Atlanta, which was regarded by the insurgents as their most formidable iron-clad vessel, left Savannah, and came down the Wilmington River. The national iron-clads Weehawken, Captain John Rogers, and Nahant, Commander John Downs, were in readiness to meet her. At four o'clock fifty-four minutes the Atlanta. fired a rifle-shot across the stern of the Weehawken, which struck near the Nahant. At quarter-past five the Weehawken, at a range of three hundred yards, opened upon the Atlanta, which had then grounded. The Weehawken fired five shots, four of which took effect on the Atlanta. She surrendered at half-past 5.

Our lines have not changed in North-Carolina. All attempts of the insurgents to recapture the towns from which they had been expelled have been repulsed. Much damage has been inflicted upon their communications, and valuable military stores have been destroyed by expeditions into the interior. North-Carolina shows some symptoms of disaffection toward the insurgent league. Similar indications are exhibited in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas.

The situation on the York and James Rivers has remained unchanged since the withdrawal of the army of General McClellan from the Peninsula a year ago. Attempts by the insurgents to retake Williamsburgh and Suffolk have been defeated, but the garrison at the latter place has been withdrawn for purely military reasons to a more defensible line.

I now return to the army of the Potomac, which was left resting and refitting after putting an end to the first insurgent invasion of Maryland. General McClellan recrossed the Potomac and entered Virginia in November, and obliged the invading forces under Lee to fall backward to Gordonsville, south of the Rappahannock. When the army of the Potomac reached Warrenton it was placed under command of General Burnside. He marched to Falmouth, hoping to cross the Rappahannock at Fredericksburgh, and to move at once upon Richmond. Delays, resulting from various causes, without fault of the General, permitted the insurgents to occupy the heights of Fredericksburgh, and when, at length, in December, General Burnside crossed the Rappahannock, his assault upon Lee's well-fortified position failed. He skilfully recrossed the river without loss. General Hooker succeeded to the command, and it was not until the beginning of May that the condition of the roads permitted a renewal of offensive operations. The General crossed the Rappahannock and accepted a battle, which proved equally sanguinary to both parties, and unsuccessful to the army of the Potomac. The heights of Fredericksburgh were captured by General Sedgwick's corps, but the whole army was compelled to return to the north bank of the river. After this battle, Lee, in the latter part of May and in June, withdrew his army from General Hooker's front, and ascending the south bank of the Rapidan, toward the sources of the Rappahannock, entered the Shenandoah Valley, and once more tempted the fortunes of war by invading the loyal States. A severe cavalry engagement at Beverly Ford unmasked this movement. The army of the Potomac broke up its camps and marched to the encounter. The militia of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New-York flew to arms, and occupied Baltimore, Harrisburgh, and the line of the Susquehanna. The two armies met at Gettysburgh, in Pennsylvania, and after a fierce contest of three days duration, and terrible slaughter on both sides, the insurgents recoiled from the position held by General Meade, who had been then only four days in command of the army of the Potomac. On the fourth of July, the day of the surrender of Vicksburgh, Lee retreated, passing through Chambersburgh and Hagerstown to Williamsport, where the proper disposition to attack him was made by General Meade. Deceived concerning the state of the river, supposed to be unfordable, General Meade, hourly expecting reenforcements, delayed the attack a day too long, and the insurgents, partly by fording and partly by floating bridges, succeeded in withdrawing across the river by night, with their artillery and a great part of their baggage. Much of this baggage, as well as of the plunder which Lee had collected, was destroyed by cavalry, or thrown out of the, wagons to make room for the wounded whom Lee carried off from the battlefield. He had buried most of his dead of the first day's conflict at Gettysburgh. The remainder, together with those who fell on the second and third days of the battle, in all four thousand five hundred, were buried by the victorious army. Many thousand insurgents, wounded and captives, fell into the hands of General Meade. It is not doubted that this second unsuccessful invasion cost the insurgents forty thousand men. Our own loss was severe, for the strife was obstinate and deadly. General Meade crossed the Potomac. Lee retired again to Gordonsville, where he is now understood to be in front of our forces.

While the stirring events which have been related were occurring in the East and in the West, General Rosecrans advanced upon Bragg, who, with little fighting, hastily abandoned his fortified positions of Shelbyville and Tullahoma, in Southern Tennessee. General Rosecrans took, and he yet holds them, while Bragg, with severe loss in a hurried retreat, has fallen back to Chattanooga. It is understood that his army had [444] been already much weakened by detachments sent from it to reenforce Johnston, with a view to a raising of the siege of Vicksburgh.

I must not overlook the operations of cavalry. General Stoneman, in connection with the movement upon Chancellorsville, made a rapid and effective passage through the insurgent country, from the Rappahannock to the York River, which will be remembered among the striking achievements of the war. While our forces were operating against Vicksburgh and Port Hudson, Colonel Grierson, with a force of one thousand five hundred men, left Corinth, on the northern border of the State of Mississippi, and made an expedition, in which he broke military communications, destroyed stores, and effected captures through the length and breadth of the State, and, finally, without serious loss, joined the army of General Banks, then engaged in the siege of Port Hudson.

John Morgan, hitherto the most successful of the insurgent partisans, recently passed around the lines of General Burnside, crossed the States of Tennessee and Kentucky, moving northward, and avoiding all large bodies of our troops, he reached the Ohio River at Brandenburgh, below Louisville, and seized two steamboats, with which he crossed into Indiana. Thence proceeding rapidly westward, subsisting on the country and impressing horses as his own gave out, he traversed a portion of Indiana and nearly the whole breadth of Ohio, destroying railroad stations and bridges, and plundering the defenceless villages. The people rallied to arms under the calls of their Governors. Some of them occupied the most important points, while others barricaded the roads or hung upon the rear of the intruders. Morgan found no disaffected citizens to recruit his wasted ranks, and when he reached the Ohio his force was prevented from crossing by the gunboats and driven backward with great slaughter. His force was between two thousand five hundred and four thousand horse, with several pieces of artillery. Only some three hundred succeeded in recrossing the Ohio and escaping into the wilds of Western Virginia. Many perished in battles and skirmishes, and the remainder, including Morgan himself, his principal officers, and all his artillery, were finally captured by the national forces. An attempt has just been made by the insurgents to invade Eastern Kentucky, which probably was begun with a view to make a diversion in favor of Morgan's escape, but the forces, after penetrating as far as Lexington, have been routed by detachments from General Burnside's army, and pursued, with the capture of many prisoners and of all their artillery.

This review of the campaign shows that no great progress has been made by our arms in the East. The opposing forces there have been too equally matched to allow great advantages to accrue to either party, while the necessity of covering the national capital in all contingencies has constantly restrained our generals and forbidden such bold and dangerous movements as usually conduct to brilliant military success. In the West, however, the results have been more gratifying. Fifty thousand square miles have been reclaimed from the possession of the insurgents. On referring to the annexed map it will be seen that since the breaking out of the insurrection, the Government has extended its former sway over and through a region of two hundred thousand square miles, an area as large as Austria or France, or the Peninsula of Spain and Portugal. The insurgents lost in the various field and siege operations of the month of July which I have described, one third of their whole forces.

Jefferson Davis, the leader of the sedition, has since proclaimed a levy of all the able-bodied men within his military lines. This, if carried into effect, will exhaust the whole material of which soldiers can be made. The insurgents estimate the total number of conscripts thus to be gained at from seventy thousand to ninety-five thousand. Our armies now confront the insurgents at all points with superior numbers. A draft for three hundred thousand more is in progress to replace those whose terms of service have expired, and to fill up the wasted ranks of our veteran regiments, and the people, just so fast as the evidence of the necessity for that measure is received and digested, submit with cheerfulness to the ascertained demands. Our armies everywhere are well equipped, abundantly fed, and supplied with all the means of transportation. The soldiers of two years service bear themselves as veterans, and show greater steadiness in every conflict. The men, accustomed to the camp, and hardened by exercise and experience, make marches which would have been impossible in the beginning of the contest. The nation is becoming familiar with arms, and easily takes on the habits of war. Large voluntary enlistments continually augment our military force. All supplies are abundantly and cheaply purchased within our lines. The country shows no signs of exhaustion of money, material, or men. A requisition for six thousand two hundred remount horses was filled and the animals despatched from Washington all in four days. Our loan is purchased at par by our own citizens, at the average rate of one million two hundred thousand dollars daily. Gold sells in our market at one hundred twenty-three to one hundred eighteen, while in the insurrectionary region it commands one thousand two hundred per cent premium.

Every insurgent port is either blockaded, besieged, or occupied by the national forces. The field of the projected Confederacy is divided by the Mississippi. All the fortifications on its banks are in our hands, and its flood is patrolled by the national fleet.

Missouri, Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland--all slave States--support the Federal Government. Missouri has already in convention ordained the gradual abolition of slavery, to take effect at the expiration of seven years. Four fifths of Tennessee, two thirds of Virginia, the coasts and sounds of North-Carolina, half of Mississippi and half of Louisiana, with all their large cities, [445] part of Alabama, and the whole sea-coast of Georgia and South-Carolina, and no inconsiderable part of the coast of Florida, are held by the United States. The insurgents, with the slaves whom they yet hold in defiance of the President's proclamation, are now crowded into the central and southern portions of Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, while the pioneer slaveholding insurgents beyond the Mississippi are cut off from the main force. On the other hand, although it is less than six months since the laws or customs of the United States would allow a man of African descent to bear arms in defence of his country, there are now in the field twenty-two thousand regularly enlisted, armed, and equipped soldiers of that class, while fifty regiments of two thousand each are in process of organization, and sixty-two thousand eight hundred persons of the same class are employed as teamsters, laborers, and camp followers. These facts show that, as the insurrection continues, the unfortunate servile population, which was at the beginning an element of its strength, is being transferred to the support of the Union.

You will use the facts presented in this paper in such a way as may be most effective to convince those who seek a renewal of commercial prosperity through the restoration of peace in America, that the quickest and shortest way to gain that desirable end is to withdraw support and favor from the insurgents, and to leave the adjustment of our domestic controversies exclusively with the people of the United States.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

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