Reported Capture of a Supply Train––Movements of the Frontier Army––An Interesting Fugitive Slave Case––Political Matters––Thanksgiving-Day, &c., &c.
From Our Special Correspondent.
ST. LOUIS, Nov. 29, 1863
The reported capture of a supply train on the road south of Lebanon, in the South-West, suggests the sort of tactics the Rebels in this State intend to pursue during the Winter. They will undoubtedly endeavor to cut off the provision trains destined to feed the Army of the Frontier. In thus they have a double object to gain––first, to annoy the Union troops, and, if possible, starve them; and second, to obtain rations for themselves. So simple a plan of operations would seem to suggest its own remedy, vix., a strong escort for each train; but our officers do not seem to have learned anything from past experience, as we are hearing of trains of forty, fifty and sixty wagons being passed on the Springfield road without any other protection than that afforded by the teamster and a few straggling soldiers who happen to be away from their regiments on furloughs or on sick leave.
All reports to the contrary notwithstanding, no portion of the Army of the Frontier has advanced this side of Springfield, or shown any signs at present of coming to St. Louis to join any other column of the army going southward, but for all that, it is commonly understood among officers and others at Springfield that such orders were received, and then countermanded. Whoever is responsible for the dilly-dallying ought to hear the complaints which come from the foot-sore soldiers. One day on the return from Fayettville, Gen. Totten's Division was shifted about so in pursuance of orders from St. Louis by telegraph, that, though the men marched 37 miles in 24 hours, they were only three miles distant when they rested from where they started in the morning. This is extraordinary strategy, but it is tough on troops, and hardly commendable.
The history of the attempted slave-catching at Hermann, Mo., 81 miles from this city, which was frustrated by the vigilance of the people of that city, is interesting. A stampede of slaves had occurred on Loutre Island, on the north side of the Missouri River, and some of the negroes had taken refuge in Hermann. As the owners were known to be Secesh sympathizers, the loyal inhabitants of Hermann refused to allow the slaves to be removed. A justice's warrant was put into the hands of a deputy sheriff, who got possession of the negroes, and confined them in the County Jail for safe keeping. The citizens assembled, with arms in their hands, to prevent the surrender of the negroes. Meanwhile, the case was laid before Gen. Curtis, whose decision was as follows:
"The Justice did right in withholding his warrant under the facts as stated. He should arrest and bring before Provost-Marshal these slaveholders, if they occasion any more trouble. By the laws of Congress, officers of the army and navy are forbidden to return fugitive slaves under any circumstances."
As there happened to be no Provost-Marshal at Hermann at that time, application was made for the appointment of one, and Capt. Manwaring, emancipation member of the next Legislature, was duly commissioned to the office. Pending these proceedings the citizens agreed to an armistice until 9 p.m. When 9 p.m. arrived, no notice of Capt. Manwaring's appointment having been received, preparations were made to force the jail and take out the negroes by force. At a lucky moment a dispatch was received appointing Capt. M., and the business done quickly by an order for the release of the negroes. This action was based entirely on the fact that Missouri being under martial law, the State laws must yield to military whenever there is any conflict between them.
Thanksgiving day passed in this city without any remarkable demonstrations. By order of the Provost-Marshal, the liquor saloons were closed all day. The Secesh churches were dumb as brutes, but the Union congregations were out in full feather. The Rev. Dr. R.A. Nelson of the First Presbyterian Church, who preaches duly to all persons, including colored men flying from bondage, on this occasion delivered a powerful sermon on the war. He said that there were other curses greater than war, and other evils far worse than fighting to suppress rebellion. The soldiers in the convalescent hospitals were treated to an excellent dinner by the Union ladies of this city.
The official count in the First District excluding about thirteen poll books for manifest illegality, [illegible] Blair by 153 majority over Knox his radical opponent. The rejected returns would have elected Knox. The latter promises to contest the election, and has on hand already a mass of testimony to prove frauds in the votes at the Abbey Precincts and in the new regiments of Blair's brigade. Still it is doubtful whether Knox will really contest the seat. His friends intend to urge his election to the Senate for the short-term. The Anti-Blair Legislative ticket is elected by a heavy plurality, though one of the candidates for the State Senate and another for the Assembly will be deprived of their seats for neglecting to [illegible] the oath required of all candidates before the election, by an ordinance of the State Convention.
A scheme is on foot to head off the Emancipation Legislature, by reassembling the State Convention and electing two United States Senators. The duty of calling the Convention together rests with Gov. Gamble. The folly of such a step may be inferred from the fact that the Legislature meets, according to law, on the 15th, and the Convention could not possibly be assembled short of the 10th. Such an attempt to swindle the people of the State would doubtless be promptly corrected by the United States Senate. Gov. Gamble will be reluctant to issue the call required of him. He has had favor after favored showed upon him by the President, and cannot be so ungrateful or unmindful of the recent verdict of the people as to assist the President's enemies in any such contemptible subterfuge.
A general assessment of all disloyal people has been resolved upon by Gen. Merrill and Gen. [illegible]––the latter officer recently made so famous by Jeff. Davis in an order to Gen. Holmes of Arkansas. The proceeds of the assessment will be applied to reimbursing Union men and Union families who have lost horses and other property, stolen by Rebel guerrillas. This is a just measure of retribution, as there has been no time when the Rebel sympathizers could not have broken up guerrilla gangs by combining their influence to oppose them. They are now called on to pay for the mischief inflicted on Union men indirectly by their own hands.
Prices in this section are increasing in every description of merchandise. The retailers have a simple way of gouging the public––they tell them that the rise in the premium of gold is the cause of the advance, and they carry out their rule by adding fifty per cent to the prices of all articles to cover the thirty per cent premium on gold.
The Government is responsible for flooding the country with worthless shinplasters, by reason of its neglect to provide a proper amount of postage currency for the wants of the community.
We were visited yesterday by a light snow storm, but as the air is very cold and piercing the feathery flakes have been packed on the ground hard as rocks, and the sun refuses to melt them to watery tenderness.
Troops from the North-West are still arriving and receiving their equipments and outfits here before they start further down the river.
The defence in the McKinetry trial has just been commenced. It is expected Gen. Fremont will be here to-morrow.
"Reported Capture of a Supply Train," New York, NY Tribune, December 5, 1862