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the early part of the day, the engagement terminated less favorably, and victory was claimed by the Rebels.
About the same time, it is worthy of note, a gunboat reconnoissance was made to Fort Donelson. The movement at Belmont, made by order of Gen. Fremont, perhaps aided another ere long to be undertaken in the latter direction, as well as the advance into Southwestern Missouri, then in progress.
A large force, under Gen. W. T. Sherman, had meanwhile advanced as far as Bowling Green, to meet an invasion of Kentucky under the Rebel Gen. Bragg, while on the left of Sherman, Gen. William Nelson, on the 8th, gained a decisive victory over the Rebels, under Col. Williams, clearing the northeastern. part of the State of invaders. Thus the prompt occupation of Paducah by Gen. Grant, the advance of Sherman, and the energy of Nelson, had defeated a well-devised plan of the Rebels for overrunning and subjugating Kentucky. Gen. Buckner, not long after his interview with McClellan at Cincinnati, in June, had thrown off the mask, and was zealously engaged in an attempt to draw Kentucky into the Secession gulf-stream, and to gather a large force of Kentuckians for the Rebel Army. In the latter purpose he was not without success.
On the 10th of November, Gen. H. W. Halleck was appointed to the command of the Department of the West, in the place of Gen. Fremont. At the same date Gen. W. T. Sherman, having lately resigned his command in Kentucky, Gen. D. C. Buell took that General's place.
During the Summer and Autumn, the Navy Department had manifested great energy in collecting the before scattered navy, and in fitting out, equipping and manning for service on the seas and navigable rivers, where available, an adequate force of war vessels, gunboats and transports. A blockade of remarkable stringency, under circumstances so adverse, had been maintained along our immense sea-coast, and numerous prizes had rewarded the vigilance of our naval commanders and seamen. Blockade-running, though frequently attempted, and sometimes too successful, had become hazardous, and communication with foreign countries was but casual. and attended with constant peril. The capture of the forts at Hatteras Inlet
effectually closed one avenue of blockade running, and the Port Royal expedition was of like value in sealing another important harbor.
On the 12th of October, the steamer Theodora evaded the blockading fleet off Charleston, and went to sea with two noted Rebel leaders on board, James M. Mason and John Slidell, recently Senators of the United States, now "accredited,” respectively, to the Governments of England and France, as Representatives of the Davis Confederacy. Their immediate destination was Cardenas, with the intention of proceeding to Europe by steamer from Havana. At the time of the arrival of these emissaries in Cuba, Com. Wilkes, cruising for the Rebel privateer Sumter, was at Cienfuegos, on the southern coast of that island. Having been notified by Consul Shufeldt, he made all haste to intercept the Theodora on her return, but on arriving at Havana, Oct. 31st, he found she had already gone, and that Mason and Slidell were waiting there, intending to leave for St. Thomas in the British Mail steamer Trent. Com. Wilkes took position with his vessel, the San Jacinto, to intercept the Trent, designing to make prisoners of her two diplomatic passengers. This purpose he accomplished on the 8th of November. The intelligence of this capture, of course, created no little excitement in this country and in Europe. As involving a question of international rights and jurisdiction, the event was widely discussed, while the loyal sentiment of the people undeniably went strongly with Com. Wilkes in his bold action. Secretary Welles promptly congratulated that officer, complimenting him, and his subordinates and crew-fully appreciating the worthy motive, and the energy of the procedure. Meanwhile, Mason and Slidell, having arrived at New York, were transferred to close quarters at Fort Warren, in Boston harbor.
The President's Message, December, 1861.-Proceedings of Congress.-Emancipation.-Confiscation. -Messages and Addresses of
CONGRESS reassembled on the 2d day of December, 1861. During the last few months public attention had been earnestly directed to the policy of turning to account the great element of Rebel strength or weakness—as it should prove-in shortA ening a war becoming gigantic in its dimensions and cost. large portion of the people had come to believe that a proper exercise of the war power would require the slaves of the rebels to be not only withdrawn from producing for the support of the Confederate armies, but also to be actively employed, so far as might be, on the right side. A small class, more radical in their views, insisted on setting aside, by Executive act, all legal or constitutional guarantees of slavery in general, and not merely in so far as they inured to the benefit of Rebels, who had repudiated all laws, and the Constitution itself, by taking up arms against the supreme authority. Had every Slave State joined in the Secession movement, this question would have been free from all embarrassments. But when Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated, only seven of these States had been ranged on the side of the rebellion, while eight remained in an attitude of loyalty. And, in the final event, but four of the remaining eight were drawn into Secession. As the President of an undivided Union, the President had thus far felt compelled, as well in the avowals of his Inaugural Address as in his subsequent action, not to interfere directly with. the relations of master and slave. It was only where the slave, in accordance with all the laws of war, could be actually used by military commanders in the field, to subserve military purposes, and not by any general blow at a recognized insti
tution, that he had authorized the relation to be forcibly disturbed.
The existence of this popular agitation, as well as of a similar debate in his own mind, perceptibly appears in the President's annual Message to Congress.
It is likewise to be observed, that the military results, thus far, had not been quite satisfactory, either to the President or to the people. Despite the lavish means provided at the July session of Congress, with a manifest view to energetic aggressive war, little more had been accomplished-and that certainly not a little, however short of expectation-than to protect the National capital, and to save Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, from being subjugated by Rebel armies. Manassas and Ball's Bluff, in the East, were still unavenged, or but partly compensated by the capture of Hatteras and Port Royal. In the West, large Rebel armies were threatening to overrun Kentucky from Bowling Green and Columbus, and Missouri from the Southwest, as well as holding the Mississippi river to within a few miles of Cairo.
In addition, was the exciting question growing out of the arrest of Mason and Slidell, on board a British ship on the high The popular feeling, on the one hand, seemed to be unanimous in favor of retaining possession of these prisoners, as conspirators and traitors; while on the other, the British Government, in spite of its own precedents, and backed by French influence, seemed determined to regard such action on our part as a cause for war. The juncture was critical. Every sympathizer with rebellion was exultant in the confidence that the Administration would be wrecked upon Scylla or Charybdisthat it would be ruined at home, or involved in a foreign war that must end any further effective effort to put down the rebellion.
The President, fully sensible of the besetting dangers, and mindful of the situation of affairs in these and other respects, submitted to Congress the following views, in a message which was received with great popular favor:
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE Senate and House of REPRESENTATIVES: In the midst of unprecedented political troubles,
we have cause of great gratitude to God for unusual good health and most abundant harvests.
You will not be surprised to learn that, in the peculiar exigences of the times, our intercourse with foreign nations has been attended with profound solicitude, chiefly turning upon our own domestic affairs.
A disloyal portion of the American people have, during the whole year, been engaged in an attempt to divide and destroy the Union. A nation which endures factious domestic division, is exposed to disrespect abroad; and one party, if not both, is sure, sooner or later, to invoke foreign intervention.
Nations thus tempted to interfere, are not always able to resist the counsels of seeming expediency and ungenerous ambition, although measures adopted under such influences seldom fail to be unfortunate and injurious to those adopting them.
The disloyal citizens of the United States who have offered the ruin of our country, in return for the aid and comfort which they have invoked abroad, have received less patronage and encouragement than they probably expected. If it were just to suppose, as the insurgents have seemed to assume, that foreign nations, in this case, discarding all moral, social and treaty obligations, would act solely, and selfishly, for the most. speedy restoration of commerce, including, especially, the acquisitions of cotton, those nations appear, as yet, not to have seen their way to their object more directly, or clearly, through the destruction than through the preservation of the Union. If we could dare to believe that foreign nations are actuated by no higher principle than this, I am quite sure a sound argument could be made to show them that they can reach their aim more readily and easily by aiding to crush this rebellion than by giving encouragement to it.
The principal lever relied on by the insurgents for exciting foreign nations to hostility against us, as already intimated, is the embarrassment of commerce. Those nations, however, not improbably, saw from the first, that it was the Union which made, as well our foreign, as our domestic commerce. They can scarcely have failed to perceive that the effort for disunion produces the existing difficulty; and that one strong nation promises more durable peace, and a more extensive, valuable and reliable commerce, than can the same nation broken into hostile fragments.
It is not my purpose to review our discussions with foreign States; because whatever might be their wishes or dispositions, the integrity of our country and the stability of our Government mainly depend, not upon them, but on the loyalty, virtue, patriotism and intelligence of the American people. The cor