NEWS FROM RICHMOND – STATEMENT OF A RELEASED PRISONER.
From the Baltimore American of Saturday.
We had a most interesting conversation this morning with Mr. Geo. W. Walker, of Waynesboro’, Pa., one of the release prisoners. He was taken seven months since, while on a visit to Virginia, and has acted as clerk in the Quartermaster’s Department at Richmond, performing all duties in connection with the prisoners, thus securing a parole that enabled him to mix freely with the citizens and soldiers.
He brings with him many unmistakable evidences of the fact that there exists in Richmond and the vicinity a strong and gallant band of Union men, who are willing and anxious at the proper moment to welcome the old flag, and fight, if necessary, to sustain its supremacy. – They requested him to make the following fact known to the government that they claim to be three thousand strong, and that a full regiment of drilled volunteers can be raised at an hour’s notice. The Union ladies are also very numerous, and have freely expended their means in succoring and comforting the sick and wounded Federal Prisoners. Mr. Walker brings with him a beautiful gold and enamel chain, which was presented to him by a party of young ladies on the eve of his departure, with the following note written in a neat elegant hand:
Richmond, Feb. 17, 1862
MR. WALKER – Dear Sir: Please accept this chain as a token of our regard. May the parts in the great chain of our Union be more securely linked than they have been since their formation as a Union.
The names are omitted at the request of Mr. Walker, fearing that the publication of them would be impolitic.
THE UNION LEAGUE.
The Union men of Richmond are daily becoming more bold and earnest, and have, for mutual protection against rebel espionage, formed a league, with grips, signals and passwords. They style themselves prisoners on parole, and have long and anxiously looked for an advance on Richmond, by way of the Rappahannock, which they are confident could be taken and held at any time with a force of three thousand men.
There are eleven earthworks in the vicinity of the railroad, only one of which is garrisoned, and has guns mounted. So also in the Rappahannock, the defences are said to be very slight.
THE REBELS DEPRESSED.
The news of the Federal victories at Somerset, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and the invasion of Tennessee and Alabama, coming on their great disaster at Roanoke, has had a most depressing influence on rebel enthusiasm. They no longer vaunt of the superior prowess and bravery of the south and the cowardice of the North – a change has come over the spirit of their dreams, and they now admit the probability of being overcome, but declare that they will kill their women and children and die to the man before they will yield.
A depression of the rebels had of course cause the Union men much joy, and they were looking forward to their early deliverance with hope and confidence.
LEVY FOR TROOPS.
The levy for troops was progressing, and all able to bear arms, between the ages of 18 and 60 were being forced to enroll their names and attend drill. The Union men were thus being forced into the service, and were learning the manual with the determination to use the knowledge for an entirely different purpose from that intended by their instructors. The rebels admit that unless every man capable of bearing arms is immediately brought into the service, Virginia will have to surrender within the next thirty days.
SCARCITY OF MONEY.
The Government has very little even of its own paper money, the difficulty to supply the Treasury being so great that many of the public offices are closed, with a label on the door, “out of funds.” The Federal Treasury notes received by the prisoners of war were readily sold at 25 per cent premium two months ago, and since the recent rebel defeats have advanced to 35 per cent.
WITHDRAWALS FROM MANASSAS.
Mr. Walker informs us that he learned from the very best authority that an order had been issued for the withdrawal of all but thirty thousand troops from Manassas. The Railroads leading to Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee, were thronged with troops, and the number leaving Manassas had been about five regiments per day for some time past. Troops were also being sent to North Carolina to resist the advance of Burnside, mostly the North Carolina Regiments from Manassas.
UNIONISM AT MANCHESTER.
Mr. Walker assures us that the statement frequently made is true that the people of Manchester, a little town opposite Richmond, had for a long time persisted in keeping the Union flag flying, and that it was only taken down when the town was threatened by Jeff. Davis with being shelled. The Union sentiment of Manchester is still preserved, and its population will prove most dangerous men into the rebel service under compulsion as is being done.
THE RELEASED PRISONERS.
The number of prisoners released along with Mr. Walker was one hundred and ninety three, all of whom arrived here this morning, and were escorted to the rooms of the Union Relief Association by a company of the Zouaves from Federal Hill.
The release of Colonels Corcoran and Lee, and the other officers held as hostages for the privateers, has not yet been determined upon. The rebels say they will not give them up until the privateers are returned, and they are still at Columbia, S. C.
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, March 1, 1862, p. 2