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the officers and men have suffered cold, hunger, and fatigue, with remarkable fortitude. My command has marched, climbed, slid and swam 350 miles since the 8th inst."
Toward the close of the year, the rebel authorities set on foot a plot to liberate some 2,500 of their officers confined on Johnson's Island, Lake Erie, and also to burn and destroy Buffalo and other lake cities. The expedition was to rendezvous in Canada, and carry on operations from thence. The American consul at Montreal, having informed the Canadian authorities on the subject, news was sent to Washington, and, through Lord Lyons, communicated to our government. Immediate steps were taken by the secretary of war, and telegrams were sent, November 11th, to Buffalo, Detroit, and other western eities, warning them of danger and of the need of activity and vigilance. In consequence of the prompt movement of troops to the points threatened, and the measures adopted by the local authorities on the frontier, the rebel plot happily came to nothing.
Early in December, a daring act of piracy was perpetrated by a party of rebel desperadoes, who had made their way for this purpose to New York from St. John's, New Brunswick. The scheme was to enter as passengers and take possession of the steamer Chesapeake while on her way as one of the regular line from New York to Portland, Maine. The Chesapeake sailed from New York on the afternoon of Saturday, December 6th, with twentyfour passengers. Eight of the latter, being part of the piratical adventurers,
purchased their tickets in the morning, and came on board with the rest without suspicion. They each brought a heavy trunk, which, it was afterwards found, was filled with fire-arms and ammunition. Eight others c ime < n board just after the Chesapeake lefc the wharf, and with their comrades quietly made preparation for what followed. On Sunday evening, after the officers and crew, except those on necessary duty, had retired, the pirates, fully armed and prepared, seized the vessel, which at the time was about twenty miles north-east of Cape Cod, murdered one of the engineers, and attempted to murder the captain and others. On Tuesday morning, December 9th, the Chesapeake reached the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, whence, proceeding towards St. John's, she received on board a rebel privateer commander, and got rid of her prisoners by placing them on board an English pilot boat, by means of which they found their way to Portland.
When the news of this piratical exploit reached the United States, it stirred up great indignation, and a fleet of cruisers was immediately dispatched from New York and other ports in pursuit of the robbers. Some days were spent in the chase, the Chesapeake dodging her pursuers in the waters of Nova Scotia. At one of her stopping places, a portion of her stolen cargo was sold to the inhabitants at trifling ig63 prices. She was finally taken into Sambro Harbor, near Halifax, where, on the 17th of December, she was captured by the "United States gun boat Ella and Annie. The crew
offered no resistance, mostly leaving the vessel and flying to the woods on the shore. The capture having been made in British waters, the vessel was promptly carried into Halifax and transferred to the British authorities for adjudication. An attempt was made by the government officers to take the pirates on board in custody, but they were rescued by a mob of southern agents and partizans, and escaped arrest. When the case came before the colonial court, the Chesapeake was promptly restored to her owners, while steps were taken to follow up the pirates. The court decreed such restoration, on the ground that the bringing of the vessel and her cargo into a port
of Nova Scotia was an offence asrainst Great Britain, subjecting them to forfeiture; and that their restoration to their original owners was an act of justice to the offended dignity of the British crown. With a proper apology on the part of our government for a capture made in British waters, the case of the Chesapeake was satisfactorily settled.*
* On the subject of prizes, t. «., any property captured at sea in virtue of the rights of war, see, for the cases brought before the United States courts at this date, Appleton's "American Annual Cydopxdia," foi 18G3, pp. 765-769. See also, for the substance of the authoritative and final decision of the Supreme Court in the prize cases, argued in the spring of 1863, Whiting's " War Powers under the Constitution of the Uni ed States." pp. 141-156.
THE THIRTY-EIGHTH CONGitESS: CLOSE OF 1863: GENERAL STATE OF AFFAIRS.
The Thirty-eighth Congress, first session — Organization, officers, etc. — The president's message — Extracts from — Mr. Lincoln's policy of emancipation — Reports of the secretaries of departments — Report of Mr. Stanton as to the army, its efficiency, etc. — Statements respecting exchange of prisoners — Course pursued by the rebels — Report of Mr. Welles, secretary of the navy — Extent of the navy — Report of the secretary of the treasury — Clear and well arranged document — Valuable and satisfactory information — Principal objects l^ept in view— Jeff. Davis's statements as to the rebel financial condition — Congress enters on its work—Various resolutions introduced — Several quoted, and action upon them — Harris and Long, in the House, severely censured — A resume of matters of general interest at close of 1863 — Military and other successes — Commerce and trade of the country — The shipping interests — Success of the rebel privateers in burning and plundering ships — Diplomatic correspondence — England's course, how iegarded in the United States — Relations with the French Government — Resolution of the House on the subject of Mexican affairs — General patriotic spirit of the people — Rebel style of talking— Appendix To ChapTer VI. — The president's proclamations.
The Thirty-eighth Congress began its first session on Monday, December 7th, having, in both Houses, a decided majority of its members in favor of the policy of the administration, and pre
pared to legislate to any extent in order
vice-president, Hannibal Hamlin, presided in the Senate; and the new senators from West Virginia, Messrs. Willey and Van Winkle, were admitted to their seats by a vote of 36 to 5. On the 9th of December, the president's message was transmitted to both Houses, and with great clearness and plainness set forth the existing condition of affairs, and the views of the chief magistrate on various questions of immediate and pressing interest. The opening paragraph was as follows :—
"Another year of health and of sufficiently abundant harvests has passed. For these, and especially for the improved condition of our national affairs, our renewed and profoundest gratitude to God is due. We remain in peace and friendship with foreign powers. The efforts of disloyal citizens of the United States to involve us in foreign Avars, to aid an inexcusable insurrection, have been unavailing. Her Britannic Majesty's government, as was justly expected, have exercised their authority to prevent the departure of new hostile expeditions from British ports. The Emperor of France has, by a like proceeding, promptly vindicated the neutrality which he proclaimed at the beginning of the contest. Questions of great intricacy and importance have arisen out of the blockade, and other belligerent operations, between the government and several of the maritime powers, but they have been discussed, and, as far as was possible, accommodated in a spirit of frankness, justice, and mutual good will. It is especially gratifying that our Prize
Courts, by the impartiality of their adjudications, have commanded the respect and confidence of maritime powers."
Having touched briefly upon the position and claims of naturalized citizens, the condition and importance of the territories, the propriety of providing remedies for injuries unintentionally done to foreigners during the war, etc., the president gave a summary of the reports of the secretaries of the several j departments, and added various suggestions for the further effectiveness of the army and navy. He then proceeded to a succinct review of his emanci- j pation policy, claiming for it definite and positively beneficial results, and stating, that "of those who were slaves I at the beginning of the rebellion fully 100,000 are now in the United States military service, about one-half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks," and also that, so far as tried, the black soldiers are little, if at all, inferior to the white.
Looking to the present and future, and with a reference to a resumption of the national authority in the states where that authority had been suspended, Mr. Lincoln thought fit to issue a proclamation, dated December 8th, a copy of which he transmitted to Congress with his message. Our limits do not admit of giving the president's views and arguments in full. They were set forth clearly and at large, and may be consulted by the reader to advantage; the proclamation also, as marking out a line of policy on the difficult and delicate subject of reconstruction, is worthy of a careful perusal. We give it in the appendix to the present chapter.* "In the midst of other cares, however important," Mr. Lincoln went on to say, " we must not lose sight of the fact that the war power is still our main reliance. To that power alone can we look, for a time, to give confidence to the people in the contested regions, that the insurgent power will not a°;ain overrun them. Until that confidence shall be established, little can be done anywhere for what is called reconstruction. Hence our chiefest care must still be directed to the army and navy, which have thus far borne their harder part so nobly and well; and it may be esteemed fortunate that in giving the greatest efficiency to these indispensable arms, we do also honorably recognize the gallant men, from commander to sentinel, who compose them, and to whom, more than to others, the world must stand indebted for the home of freedom, disenthralled, regenerated, enlarged, and perpetuated.'1'
The reports of the secretaries in the several departments, which accompanied the president's message, exhibited a remarkable and extensive development of the resources of the country in meeting and providing for the exigencies of the war. The statistics furnished by Mr. Stanton, the secretary of war, are interesting and instructive. According to his statements, over 2,000 siege and sea-coast artillery had been issued since the war was begun, being
* It may bo noted here, that the president issued an additional explanatory proclamation, March 26th, 1864, with reference to the case of insurgent enemies entitlod to the benefits of his proclamation, December 8th, 1863. This is also given in the appendix to the present chapter.
double the number on hand wh^-n the rebellion broke out. The number of field artillery had increased from 231 to 2,481; infantry fire-arms from 437, 433 to 1,550,570, and other arms and material in like proportion. For thi^ supply, the country, at the beginning of the war, was almost wholly dependent on foreign nations; but now we were not only able to manufacture them ourselves at home, but possessed all the materials necessary therefor. Particularly was this the case in regard to iron in its various shapes. Mr. Stanton also enlarged upon the subject of the exchange of prisoners, and what was held to be the mean and malicious course pursued by the rebel authorities. I Until recently, exchauges had been conducted in accordance with the ar rangement made, in 1861, by Gen. Dix and the rebel Gen. Hill (p. 107); j but, owing to several causes, the government had been compelled to suspend this arrangement. The number of our prisoners in the rebels' hands was about 13,000; at Vicksburg and | Port Hudson, it will be remembered that between 35,000 and 40,000 prisoners, taken by our armies, were released on parole, until duly and lawfully exchanged. "But the rebel agent," said J Mr. Stanton, "in violation of the cartel, 1 declared the Vicksburg prisoners exchanged, and without being exchanged, the Port Hudson prisoners he, without j . just cause and in violation of the cartel, declared released from their parole. These prisoners were returr. ed to their ,! ranks and a portion of then: were found fighting at Chattanooga, and again captured. For this breach of faith, unex