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On the 1st and 2d, Generals Hunter, Benham, and Stevens proceeded to Stono Inlet, with all the available force at their command, accompanied by eight gunboats. The troops were landed on James Island without opposition.
Frequent reconnoissances were made on Johns Island and James Island, resulting in trifling loss on both sides. On the 10th of June, the Union forces occupied Kimball's plantation, James Island; and, on the 11th, the pickets of General Wright's Brigade were vigorously attacked by the Forty-seventh Georgia. A sharp skirmish ensued, without material results. The force under General Benham consisted of Wright's Division of two brigades, Chatfield's and Williams's; Ste vens's Division of two brigades, Fenton's and Learned's; altogether, some sixteen regiments. These troops occupied the southern portion of James Island, on Stono Creek, which takes a westerly direction, separating Jobos Island from James Island. The 'latter is separated from the main-land by Wappoo Creek, wbich runs from Ashley River, at a point opposite Charleston, to Stono Creek. Hence, if there were no obstructions, the gunboats that ascended Stono Creek could pass through Wappoo Creek to Charleston. The Pawnee and the Ellen were in Stono Creek, covering the troops encamped on James Island; and Wappoo Creek bad been rendered impassable by obstructions. The enemy held Fort Jobnston, on the extreme northern point of James Island, opposite Fort Sumter. He had also a force of twelve thousand troops within four miles. General Hunter visited the island, and delayed the attack upon Fort Johnston until he should receive re-enforcements, and returned to Hilton Head, leaving Benham in command. The enemy, however, established in front of Secessionville, and about a mile and a half in advance of our works, a battery, from which one very heavy gun threw its shells into our camps, and even over General Wright's camp into the Stono River, where the gunboats lay. This camp, as well as that of General Stevens, was liable to be swept by the enemy's fire at any time; and the gunboats were powerless to prevent it, as they had no guns of sufficient calibre to reach the battery. General Benham, therefore, deemed it indispensable to the security of our position to capture that battery. A reconnoissance was ordered for the 16th, with the design of taking the work by a dash before daylight.
Secessionville is a small village on the eastern side of the island, lying on a creek which winds through the marshes between James and Morris Islands, and empties into the Stono River near its mouth. On the west of the village, a short, shallow creek makes its way towards the waters of Charleston Bay. Thus a tongue of land is formed between the two creeks, connected with the body of the island by a narrow neck, thirty yards wide, four or five hundred yards south of Secessionville. Here Lamar's rebel battery was located, flanked on each side by marsh and the creeks. It was a simple earthwork, hearily constructed, having a plain face, with an obtuse angle on each side, and facing south, in the direction of the Stono River, which is about two miles off. From this point the cleared highland stretches out to the Stono River. The front of the work was covered with thick abatis
and rifle-pits. On the 15th of June, a Charleston regiment was a half mile in advance of the work, with other troops in the rear as a support. General Stevens, who led the main column of attack, advanced by a road on the right, while General Wright, on the left, reached his appointed position at four A. M. of the 16th, where he waited for one hour and a balf for the sound of the guns, which were to be the signal for his farther advance. This delay brought the attack into full daylight, and exposed our men to the severe fire which it had been General Benham's object to avoid. Immediately upon the firing being heard, Wright's column moved forward, and took up a position which completely protected its flank and the rear from assault by the main body of the rebels, who, to the number of twelve thousand, lay a few miles above, to our left.
The attack of Stevens was made with two brigades, numbering about four thousand men, who arrived within four hundred yards of the works before they were discovered by the enemy. The latter delivered their fire of grape when the command was close upon the guns, making fearful bavoc. The two advanced regiments succeeded, under the staggering fire, in reaching the abatis, where, exposed to a murderous rifle practice, they waited for the remaining regiments, until compelled to retire with heavy loss. Meantime three regiments under Williams, of Wright's Brigade, which were to have supported the left of Stevens, lost their way, and came out on the right flank of the enemy's work, from which they were separated by a deep stream and an impassable marsh. There were two battalions of the enemy's rifles facing them across the marsh. They, however, enfiladed the fort, and inflicted severe loss upon the enemy, until he was re-enforced by a Louisiana battalion arriving on the field with a field-piece, and forming on the right of the enemy. This movement somewhat outflanked the Union troops, and they began to retire, their retreat being accelerated by the arrival of rebel re-enforcements. The attack having failed, the order to retire to the former camping-ground was given. The engagement lasted four bours, and the Union loss, killed, wounded, and missing, was six hundred and sixty-eight. The enemy reported his loss at forty killed and one hundred and fifty wounded, among whom was Colonel Lamar. When the news of this disaster reached General Hunter, he immediately ordered General Benham to report himself under arrest, for alleged disobedience of orders. On the 27th, General Hunter ordered the evacuation of James Island, and transports were sent from Hilton Head to bring off the troops.
After the withdrawal of the troops from James Island, military affairs in the department relapsed into inaction, except in so far as the enterprise of the enemy caused occasional movements. The jurisdiction of the department gradually contracted : Edisto, Stono, Otter Islands, and St. Helena Sound were given up; the command of the Savannah River, with the forts on its banks, relinquished; and the troops held only Hilton Head, Beaufort, Pulaski, and their immediate dependencies. 'Early in September, General Hunter was relieved of bis command, and was succeeded by General Mitchel.
Financial Situation.-Legal Tender.-Interest in Coin.--Duties in Specie. Gold Notes at a Premium.- Deposits.—Ways and Means. -Debt.-Excise Loan.--Income Tas. -Paper Circulation.—Effect of Paper Money.-Rise in Price.-Premium on Gold -Commerce.-Government Expenses.-Growth of Debt. Immense Means.
The expenses of the war continued to press heavily upon the resources of the Government, while the war itself interrupted the usual course of production and trade, thereby reducing the ordinary revenues of the Treasury to a low figure. When the year 1862 opened, the prospect was sufficiently gloomy. The Government stocks were at a discount; the banks had suspended specie payments; fifty million dollars of paper money had been paid out by the Government, on its face redeemable in coin and receivable for customs; the expenditure reached nearly two million per day; and there were heavy arrears to to be met to pay contractors and soldiers. The moment had come when the Government must choose between heavy direct taxation and paper money as a means of meeting current expenses. Unfortunately, all provision for the war had been neglected until arrears accumulated, and there was now no time in which to collect taxes, This fact was accepted as a sufficient reason for authorizing paper money. And the Secretary was, by the act of February 25, 1862, authorized to issue, in notes of five dollars and upwards, one hundred and fifty million dollars, including the fifty million already out. While these notes were made a legal tender for all debts, public and private, except customs, the fact was overlooked that the fifty million out were not a legal tender, but were, by the terms of the law, receivable for customs. Inasmuch as that contract could not be repudiated, a supplemental law was passed, March 18th, correcting that oversight. A twin measure of this issue of paper money was a provision that the interest on the national debt should be paid in coin.
This was deemed necessary to reassure the national creditors who recognized in the paper medium a quasi repudiation of their claims, since, if they continued to receive a fixed amount of paper annually for interest, and that paper, following the experience of all previous issues, should depreciate and ultimately become valueless, they would lose their revenues. This, it was also hoped, would operate to induce holders of other property to transfer it into Government stocks. But if the Government was to pay coin, it must have some means of procuring coin. To buy it in the open market in exchange for paper, would cause the latter rapidly to depreciate. It was therefore resolved that all duties should be paid in coin. This plan also recommended itself to the manufacturing and protective interests, because it was in effect raising the cost of imported goods to the extent of the depreciation of the paper. The duties for the year were estimated at fifty millions; and this amount, derived in specie, would, it was supposed, meet the interest on the Government debt, and also furnish sufficient to pay diplomatic salaries and other claims on the Government abroad. There was apparently a large amount of capital with
drawn from trade, that was accumulating in private hands. The owners did not seem disposed to invest it in the Government stocks, under the assurance, constantly reiterated in high quarters, that the war would have a speedy termination. They desired temporary employment for it, under the supposition that speedy peace would restore the usual occupation of capital. The Secretary of the Treasury was therefore authorized to receive money on deposit to the extent of twenty-five millions, returnable at ten days' notice, and to pay five per cent. per annum interest in gold. This measure was successful, and the limit was soon filled. Congress subsequently raised the limit at various times, until it was fixed at one hundred millions, when interest was made payable in paper instead of gold. In addition to these measures, the Secretary was authorized to issue certificates of indebtedness to the national creditors, bearing six per cent. interest in gold, and payable in one year; subsequently the interest was made payable in paper instead of gold. There was no limit fixed to this issue. It was paid out at par to the public creditors, and by them sold in the market at a greater or less discount, according to the amount offered for sale.
Meantime the deposits were the most ready means of meeting the wants of the treasury. The banks and the public held large amounts of Government paper, of the old or first issues, having the value of specie, which the new issue would not possess. They would not, therefore, deposit their notes with the treasury without a stipulation that the same kind of notes should be received back. This demand was complied with, and the deposits became large. The fact that the treasury took all unemployed money at five per cent., caused that rate to become the minimum rate of interest in the market, since the Government would be the first choice of lenders. With all these provisions, the ways and means of the department now embraced twenty-five million dollars of 77 three years' bonds not yet issued, one hundred million dollars of legal tenders credited by the law of Frebruary 25th, ten million dollars granted by the tariff law of March, one hundred million dollars of certificates of deposit, and an unlimited amount of six per cent. one year certificates to issue. These different credits began to make their appearance as fast as they could be prepared, and with this emission they began to depreciate as compared with gold. The premium on gold, which had been five per cent. January 1st, had declined to one and a half. It now began to rise, however, and, at the close of the fiscal year, June 30th, 1862, was at ten per cent. premium.
The debt on the 1st of July, 1862, was $514,211,371,* not includ* The Federal debt was composed as follows:
July, 1862 Stocks, five per cent..... .........$30,595,092
...$ 20.095,092 Stocks, six per cent...... ....... 41,685,559... .... 189.929,856....
104.595,5115 Stocks, seven and three-tenths per cent
122.886,550 Treasary Notes, six per cent....
2.830.611 One Year Certificates, six per cent...... Deposits, four per cent.................
149,660,000 $90,867,829 $267,540,085
Deposits, five per cent...............
ing the arrears, which were estimated at some one hundred million dollars. The funded debt had thus increased during the year, $423,343,543, or $1,163,000 per day, not including the very large sums not audited. The whole net revenue and expenditure for the fiscal year 1862, which was the first entire year of war, were, for customs, $49,056,397; bonds, $152,203; miscellaneous, $931,787; direct tax, $1,795,332; which sums, added to the increased loans, made $475,279,263, or $1,302,000 per day, of which amount nine-tenths was borrow. ed. This debt bore an interest of twenty-two million dollars per annum, payable in gold, which was now, July 1st, at a premium of ten per cent. for Government paper. It was obvious that the regular revenue must be increased by taxation, however detrimental that might prove to the political, interests of the party in power, The direct tax law of the previous session had been repealed, and the confiscation acts, under which it was alleged the war expenses could be paid from Southern property, were found to be delusive. It was therefore determined to pass an excise law, which was to levy taxes upon all departments of industry, and also a tax upon all incomes over six hundred dollars. The chief features of the excise law were stamp duties upon all transactions and legal demands, and a three per cent. tax upon manufactures. There were also some changes made in the customs duties, with a view to more revenue. The excise law would necessarily be a long time in getting into operation, and the income tax was not made payable until June, 1863. It was necessary, therefore, that further loans should be resorted to, and July 11th a further issue of one hundred and fifty million dollars paper money was authorized, of which thirty-five million dollars were to be notes of a denomination less than five dollars. Of the whole amount, fifty million dollars were to be reserved as a fund to meet the deposits, in case they should be called for.
The estimates of the Secretary for the fiscal year 1863 embraced an expenditure of $693,346,321, and the revenue was estimated at $180,495,345, from all sources, customs, taxes, &c. There remained, then, $512,850,976 to be provided for, and in addition, $95,212,456 of public debt was to be met, making $608,063,432, Soon after, however, military disasters caused the calling out of six hundred thousand more men, and raised the appropriation for 1863 to 8882,238,800.
To meet these expenses, Congress authorized the issue of five hundred million dollars, six per cent. stock, redeemable in five to twenty years, and also a further issue of notes for one hundred million dollars, exchangeable at par for the stock authorized. Subsequently, the Secretary was authorized to issue fractional notes, or for parts of a dollar, to an unlimited amount. Thus there were authorized seven hundred and fifty million dollars, and in addition, as much fractional paper as the Secretary might deem proper. . With these resources the Secretary continued to meet the wants of the Government, under a manifestly growing discredit, since the price of gold rose rapidly in the market, and the five-twenty bonds, or those which were payable after five years and within twenty years, were limited to sales at not less than the market value, and the