The National crisis.a Republican Reporter's description of the late expedition of the "Star of the West"--the action of the Pennsylvania Legislature — the Reinforcement of Fort McHenry--the Seizure of Forts in Louisiana, &c.
The first Government expedition to South Carolina--Narrative of the reception and return.[By the N. Y. Post's (Rep.) Reporter on board.]
The officers.The following are the military officers on board: Charles R. Woods, 1st Lieutenant, 9th Infantry. Wm. A. Webb, 1st Lieutenant, 5th Infantry. Chas. W. Thomas, 2d Lieutenant, 1st Infantry. Assistant Surgeon, P. G. S. Ten Broeck, Medical Department. Lieut. Woods, a fine, soldierly-appearing man, has the command. He has served on the frontiers, and in 1855 was dispatched to Walla-Walla, in Washington Territory. He drove the Indians out of Walla-Walla Valley, in 1856, after their attack upon Gov. Stevens. Lieut Webb has served in Washington Territory, Texas, Florida, and went to Utah in the winter of 1857. He was detached from his regiment and had charge of a heavy battery. He also constructed the works at Fort Bridger, and was subsequently on Gen. Johnston's staff for a year. He left Utah in April, and has since been at Governor's Island. Lieut. Thomas has served mostly in Texas, and has been, at different times, at nearly every post in that State. Dr. Ten Broeck was graduated at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and entered the service in 1847, shortly after the battle of Cerro Gordo. He served in the Castle of San Juan and Vera Cruz, and subsequently in the city of Mexico. After peace was declared, he served on the Texan frontiers. Wednesday, January 9.--I awoke at three o'clock this morning and went immediately to the upper deck, where I found the captain, mate, pilot and two military officers. I learned that we arrived in the vicinity of Charleston bar about midnight; that all the coast-lights had been extinguished, and that thus far it had been impossible to find the main channel. It is evident from these indications that the hospitable South Carolinians do not mean that we should go in without a salute. A light was seen off the coast, but we could not make out what it was. A little after three o'clock we discovered the light on Fort Sumter, and with these exceptions everything was dark. It was, of course, impossible to get over the bar without the light-house, and so we awaited the break of day. I have never seen a finer morning than the one which dawned upon us. The sky was clear, and the moon, a faint crescent of silver, had just arisen, and the low coast looked like a dense forest of evergreen. The spires of Charleston became visible in the approaching daylight, and on the walls of Sumter we descried the American flag floating in the breeze. Now, about half-past 6 o'clock, we see the light-house; and now, too, we discover that the mysterious light just mentioned was that of a steamer at our right. Now the situation of the channel is ascertained and we are under way, and now the steamer at our right is burning red and blue lights, and now she sends up rockets. There is no mistaking her movements; she is giving the alarm signal to Fort Moultrie. On we go; the soldiers are below with loaded muskets and the officers are ready to give the word if there is anything to do. Now it is broad daylight, and we are making directly into the guns of Fort Moultrie, whose black walls are distinctly visible. The little steamer at our right is burning a signal light aft, and is making all possible headway up the harbor. Now we discover a red Palmetto flag at our left on Morris' Island, at a little village called Cummings' Point, and apparently but little more than a mile from Fort Sumter. "Is it possible that those fellows have got a battery off here?" asks one. "No," answers another; "There is no battery there." But there is. It is now a quarter past seven, and we are about two miles from Forts Sumter and Moultrie, which are equidistant from us, and, suddenly, whizzed comes a ricochet shot from Morris' Island. It plunges into the water and skips along, but falls short of our steamer. The line was forward of our bow, and was, of course, an invitation to stop. But we are not ready to accept the proffered hospitality, and the Captain pays no attention to it, except to run up the Stars and Stripes at the masthead — the garrison flag mentioned before. A moment of anxious suspense, and bang! goes a heavy cannon from the same masked battery. The shot falls short of us a hundred yards or more, and bounds clean over our vessel, aft, nearly on a line with the head of a sailor, but, luckily, a little above it. On we go, and — whiz-z! again goes the smaller gun first fired, and another ricochet shot skips along the water and falls short of us. "Booh!" exclaims the captain; "you must give us bigger guns than that, boys, or you cannot hurt us. On we go, without bedding the compliments of our Charleston friends. Another moment, and bang! again goes the heavy gun. The ball now strikes our ship in the fore chains, about two feet above the water. A seaman was holding the lead to take the soundings, and the ball struck directly under his feet.--It was not surprising that, under the circumstances, Jack was strongly inclined to take to his heels, and he begins to scramble up with might and main, when the captain assures him that there is no danger, one ball having struck so near him; on the principle, I suppose, that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Jack, reassured, patiently takes his place and drops the lead again. The ball, fortunately, was too far spent to go through the side of our vessel, although it left an honorable scar. The battery continues to play upon us, and a huge ball comes clear over us near the wheel-house. We are not yet within range of the guns of Fort Moultrie, and yonder is a cutter in tow of a steamboat, preparing to open fire upon us. A moment longer and we shall be in range of these three batteries. The gunners on Morris' Island are growing confident; if they get the right range they will send a shot through our side, scattering death and destruction. Moultrie, directly in front, will bring her heavy guns to bear and will drive their deadly missiles into our bow, while the cutter will open on our right. Why does not Major Anderson open fire upon that battery and save us? We look in vain for help; the American flag flies from Fort Sumter, and the American flag at our how and stern is fired upon; yet there is not the slightest recognition of our presence from the fort to which we look for protection. The unexpected battery on Morris' Island has cut off all hope of escape by running the vessel aground near Sumter and taking to the boats. Is it possible that Fort Sumter has been taken by the South Carolinians? If it has not, why does not Major Anderson show that he will protect us, or at least recognize us in some way? To go within the range of the guns of Fort Moultrie is to expose vessel, men and stores to almost instant destruction, or to capture by the enemy. "Helm out of port!"shouts the captain, and the Star of the West is turned about without any great loss of time, as you may well imagine. We turn without accident and steam away, with the Stars and Stripes still floating and the batteries still playing upon us by way of a parting salute. As we steam away the steamer near Moultrie, having the hostile cutter in tow, steams away into Swash channel, evidently with the intention of cutting off our retreat; but she soon abandons the chase, and we sail out, without a man killed or wounded, with our stores unharmed, and proceed unmolested, probably on our homeward journey. After the brief but exciting experience of the morning, I am prepared, without hesitation, to concur with the captain in the opinion that it is very unpleasant to be fired at with hard cannon balls, without any chance to fire back. I wish to say, however, that no one on board displayed any symptoms of fear. Capt. McGowan, and the pilot, Mr. Brewer, were probably especial marks for the Morris' Island battery, since a good shot through the wheel-house would have been most disastrous. The soldiers, although two-thirds of them are recruits, appeared to be quite indifferent to the music, while the officers agreed that it was scandalous that they could not fight back. Soon after crossing the bar of the Charleston harbor, on our homeward coast, we met a fine sailing vessel, the Emily St. Pierre, of Charleston. Captain McGowan stopped and hailed her. "Where do you hail from?" said he. "From Liverpool," was the reply. "Whither bound?" "To Charleston." "What flag do you sail under?" "So far, under the American flag." "Then you can't go into Charleston," said our captain. "They will not let the American flag go into that port. I was just driven out of there. They fired upon me when I was sailing under the American flag." "Then I suppose I must go in under the Palmetto flag," said he of the Emily St. Pierre. "Then I ought to take you," shouted our captain, with energy. "War has been declared; they have fired upon me and you are a lawful prize." "You can do what you like," replied the other, with a voice which seemed to be tremulous from some cause or another, "you are the stronger party." Captain McGowan concluded that, inasmuch as he had not at present a commission from Government, he would let the Emily St. Pierre go her way, but declared that if he had his commission it would be delightful to bring her off after the treatment he had received this morning from Charleston. The military men on board highly complimented the South Carolinians on their shooting, in this first attempt. They say it was well done, that all which was needed was a little better range, which they probably could have obtained in a few minutes. Their line was perfect, and the opinion is expressed that some one had charge of the guns who understood his business. "It was very good sport for them," remarked one of our officers, "to shoot at us, and there was nothing to trouble them. They had it all their own way. But when Uncle Sam gets a man-of-war in the channel, throwing shells into that sand hill, they will learn the difference." Two guns were employed; the smaller, it is believed, a twelve-pounder, and the larger a thirty-two pounder. This, however, is only conjecture. Whatever their size, they were well manned. They were fired rapidly and with a will. One of the officers hazarded a joke soon after we left the Charleston harbor. "The people of Charleston." he remarked, "pride themselves upon their hospitality, but it exceeds my expectation. They gave us several balls before we landed." It is believed that if the South Carolinians had not made a mistake we should have partaken of their hospitality, whatever it may be, as prisoners. If the battery on Morris' Island had waited ten minutes longer before firing, we should have been completely at their mercy. It was only necessary for them to wait until we were within range of the guns of Fort Moultrie, and escape would have been impossible. So that, had it not been for this new and unexpected battery on Morris' Island, and its premature firing, we should inevitably have fallen into the hands of the enemy, if we had escaped shooting and drowning. Although we had a surgeon on board, he had no instruments or medical stores. It is believed that the cutter which was in tow of the steamboat was the William Aiken, which was treacherously surrendered to the South Carolinians by its commander.
Charleston harbor cannot fail to appreciate the importance of Fort Sumter. From the deck of our vessel it had the appearance of a new red brick building. It completely commands the channel, Fort Moultrie and Morria' Island.--Our officers, however, are in doubt whether it commands the masked battery on that Island which fired on us. The battery is, apparently, simply an earthwork constructed among sand hills. The port holes of Fort Sumter overlooking Morris' Island were closed, and it is possible that the guns on that side of the fortress have not been mounted.
The return voyage.We crossed the Charleston bar, outward bound, about 9 o'clock. There was then a consultation as to our future movements. The impossibility of entering the harbor and landing at Fort Sumter was sufficiently apparent. We had no instructions except to go to Fort Sumter, and it was decided that the only thing to be done was to put back to New York as soon as possible. The weather was delightful. For three days--Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday--we had no fires and felt no need of overcoats. On Thursday afternoon, however, we began to feel the Northern climate. During the night we had a very heavy head sea. On Friday we had a smooth sea again, and this (Saturday) morning we made Sandy Hook at daybreak. We arrived off Warren street a little after 8 o'clock, and anchored in the stream, until Lieutenant Woods could report and receive orders relative to the disposition of the troops. Thus, we concluded a sea voyage of nearly a week's duration; and although the Star of the West failed to fulfill the mission on which she was dispatched, every one who was on Board feels that everything was done that could have been done.
Distance of the vessel from the Forts.The Star of the West was about five-eighths of a mile from the battery on Morris' Island. --When she turned we were about a mile and a half from Fort Sumter and the same distance from Fort Moultrie. The Morris' Island battery is apparently about a mile and a quarter from Fort Sumter. Had we not turned about we should have soon been within less than three-fourths of a mile of Moultrie. Since our return it has been ascertained that two shots took effect on the steamer; one, as already stated, on her port bow, and a second, as she was turning, on her starboard quarter. --One shot passed between the smokestack and the engine beam. It is not true, as I learn has been stated in some of the morning papers, that the Star of the West struck her colors. We came out of Charleston with the Stars and Stripes still flying. A. C. H.
The action of the Pennsylvania Legislature.The Pennsylvania Senate on Friday adopted the following preamble and resolutions: Resolved. By the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met, and it is hereby resolved:
- 1. that the Constitution of the United States of America was ordained and established, as set forth in its preamble, by the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the General welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity; and if the people in any State in the Union are not in the full enjoyment of all the benefits intended to be secured to them by the said Constitution, if their rights under it are disregarded, their tranquility disturbed, their prosperity retarded, or their liberties imperilled by the people of another State, full and adequate redress can and ought to be provided for such grievances through the action of Congress and other proper departments of the National Government.
- 2. Resolved, that the people of Pennsylvania entertain, and desire to cherish, the most fraternal sentiments for their brethren of other States, and are ready now, as they have ever been, to cooperate in all measures needful for their welfare, security and happiness under the Constitution, which makes us one people. That, while they cannot surrender their love of liberty, inherited from the founders of their State, sealed with the blood of the Revolution, and witnessed in the history of their legislation, they nevertheless maintain now, as they have ever done, the rights of the people of the slaveholding States to the uninterrupted enjoyment of their own domestic institutions, and all their constitutional rights in relation thereto.
- 3. Resolved, unanimously. that we adopt the sentiment and language of President Andrew Jackson, expressed in his message to Congress on the 16th of January, 1833, that "the right of the people of a single State to absolve themselves at will, and without the consent of the other States, from their most solemn obligations, and hazard the liberties and happiness of the millions composing this Union, cannot be acknowledged; and that such authority is utterly repugnant both to the principles upon which the General Government is constituted and the objects which it was expressly formed to attain."
- 4. Resolved. that the Constitution of the United States of America contains all the powers necessary to the maintenance of its authority, and it is the solemn and most imperative duty of the Government to adopt and carry into effect whatever measures may be necessary to that end, and the faith and the power of Pennsylvania are hereby pledged to the support of such measures, in any manner and to any extent that may be required of her by the constituted authorities of the United States.
- 5. Resolved, that all plots, conspiracies, and warlike demonstrations against the United States' in any section of the country, are treasonable in their character, and whatever power of this Government is necessary for their suppression, should be applied to that purpose without hesitation or delay.
- 6. Resolved. that the Governor be, and he is hereby requested to transmits copy of these resolutions to the President of the United States, properly attested under the great seal of this Commonwealth, and like attested copies to the Governors of the several States of this Union, and also to our Senators and Representatives in Congress, who are hereby requested to present the same to the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States.
- The first resolution was adopted unanimously.
- The second resolution was agreed to — yeas 21, nays 7.
- The third was agreed to — yeas 28, nays none.
- The fourth was agreed to — yeas 21, nays 6.
- The fifth was agreed to — yeas 24, nays 4.
- The sixth was agreed to — yeas 26, nays 6.
- The resolutions as a whole then passed finally by a strict party vote — yeas 26, nays 6.
A letter from Fort Pulaski.The Savannah Republican publishes the following letter from Fort Pulaski: ‘ Fort Pulaski is an irregular pentagon in shape, the entrance being in the middle of the longest side. The quarters of the officers and men are in very comfortable rooms in this wall. The material is of brick, handsomely built, and while everything shows marks of care, order and neatness, the fort needs many repairs and much work to put it in fighting train. It encloses, perhaps, a couple of acres, and will mount over one hundred cannon in the ports and on the ramparts. But few of these are in place, and they only 32-pounders. I need say nothing of the expedition to appropriate the fort, nor of the routine duties of our gallant troops there, for your correspondent "S" has described these. ’ On getting within, the sight was a very attractive one. A beautiful plat of grass, smooth as a floor, was unbroken by any object save the six guns of the Chatham Artillery and a cluster or two of men, drilling or passing to or from some scene of labor. In front of the quarters were men in all attitudes, and most of them in their flannel working shirts — some on camp chairs, some on the grass, smoking, reading or chatting; others plying the needle, in sewing up 8-pound cartridges for the 32-pounders; here was a squad marching to relieve the guard, there a sentry treading his novel round; and armed men were hurrying along in eager search of letters and papers, or packages of eatables equally desirable. After dinner, I ascended the ramparts, and with an opera glass scanned the various points of the horizon. The afternoon was beautifully clear, and the view very distinct. The moat is now almost choked up with mud and growth of weeds, but it is rapidly digging out under the strikes of 100 stalwart negroes, giving another illustration of "African muscle directed by Caucasian brain." The channel makes quite a sweep, and vessels passing in or out are exposed for a long time to the fire of the fort. The New York steamers bound out, passed in full view; the "Mount Vernon" gracefully lowering the U. S. flag when abreast of the fort, as if in compliment to the occupants, who, having taken down its standard, have as yet substituted no State flag. The "Alabama," it was believed, would salute the fort as she passed, but she failed to do so.
The Reinforcement of Fort McHenry.The Baltimore American of yesterday gives the following account of the arrival of troops, already mentioned, to reinforce Fort McHenry: ‘ The following are the names of the commissioned officers and the strength of the command: ’ Company H, Second Regiment of Artillery, Col. Horace Brooks commanding; Lieut. Tlis. C. Sullivan acting Adjutant; 1 sergeant, 4 corporals, 2 musicians, 2 artificers, 53 privates. This corps was originally drafted from Governor's Island, New York, and for the past three years have been at Fort Leavenworth. Company A, Light Artillery, Captain Wm. D. Barry commanding; Lieuts. John C. Tidball, Alex. J. Perry, Second Lieut. John N. Barrenger, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 2 artificers, 72 privates, 68 horses. This company was drafted from Fort McHenry, and composed a part of the renowned Duncan Battery, whose bravery and military efficiency were so well established in the war with Mexico. Company I, Light Artillery, Lieut. Jas. B. Fry commanding; Lieut. Thos. C. Sullivan, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 2 buglers, 2 artificers, 70 privates, 59 horses. This company is commanded by Col. Magruder, who is now on leave of absence in Europe. It is better known as Magruder's Battery, and was in the hottest part of the fight in Mexico. The following is the recapitulation of the force: Commissioned officers, 8; non-commissioned officers, 24; musicians, 6; artificers, 6; privates, 195--total, 239. The command passed down Calvert street, and took the direct route to Fort McHenry, not only making a very formidable display, but exciting considerable attention and discussion on the part of the thousands of citizens who saw them. They are now in the occupancy of comfortable quarters, and hard at work in the examination and improvement of the batteries. The commissioned officers whilst traveling here took their meals at the various stopping places upon the roads, whilst the men were supplied with the usual army rations. These, however, were nearly exhausted last evening, and the commissary's department will be actively engaged to-day. Yesterday the United States flag was displayed from the works, and the force is now awaiting further orders. Upon the reception of additional orders, Captain Barry's command proceeded to Washington, which reduces the force at Fort McHenry very considerably. The company of United States Marines which reached here a few days since and took possession of the garrison, returned to Washington also, in a special train on Saturday night. Fort McHenry yesterday afternoon was an object of special attraction to the citizens, nearly two thousand of whom, notwithstanding the cold weather, visited the works from curiosity.
The Seizure of Forts in Louisiana.The N. O. Delta, of Thursday, gives an account of the departure of the troops who left that city to capture two United States forts.--The successful end of the expedition has been stated by telegraph: ‘ This morning the armories of the downtown brigade were lively with the assembling of troops, as those of up town were last night. The people, apprised of the movements on foot, crowded around the arsenals and watched with deep interest the progress of making ready, occasionally indicating their sympathy by hearty cheers. ’ Under these directions the troops of Gen. Palfrey's Brigade assembled under arms, fully equipped for campaign service, and about 11 o'clock marched aboard the towboat Yankee, at the foot of St. Philip street, which had steam and was getting aboard a large quantity of provisions and gunpowder. The following order was issued to Major Paul E. Theard by Adjutant General Grivot: ‘ Instructions to Major Paul E. Theard: ’ You will proceed with your detachment on board of the steamboat Yankee, and go down to Forts St. Philip and Jackson, where you will demand of the persons in charge of the forts to surrender them; and you will take possession of the same in the name of the State of Louisiana.--Haul down the United States flags, if floating there, and hoist the Pelican flag from Fort Jackson. Place Captain St. Paul, with the 1st Company of Chasseurs-a-Pied, in possession of Fort St. Philip, and take possession of Fort Jackson, with the balance of the detachment. You will hold the forts, and defend them against any and all attacks to the last. Strict discipline and order must be exacted by you. By order of His Excellency, Thomas O. Moore, Governor of the State of Louisiana.
The troops assembled on board, forming the detachment, numbered 166, according to the roll furnished Gen. Palfrey, which, with Maj. Theard and his staff, made it about 170.