December 31.—The Canadian press comments upon the release of Messrs. Mason and Slidell in the same spirit which has prompted its various representations hitherto in their treatment of the rebellion. The Leader uses the most abusive language at its command. It pronounces the surrender one of the “greatest collapses since the beginning of time,” and has much to say of the “humiliation” of the National Government. The Globe talks much more moderately, and heartily congratulates its readers on the result; and the Montreal Gazette speaks of it as a “bitter, bitter pill for the fire-eaters to cram down their noisy throats.”—N. T. Times, December 81.
—In the United States Senate a communication was received from the Secretary of War, to-day, stating that it is incompatible with the public interest to furnish the correspondence which has passed between General Scott and General Patterson, relative to the conduct of the war.—N. Y. Herald, December 31.
—Captains Shillinglaw and Mason, of the Seventy-ninth New York regiment, Lieutenant Dickinson, of the Third United States infantry, Lieutenant J. W. Hart, Twentieth Indiana, and Corporal Thomas McDowell, of the Seventy-ninth New York, arrived at Fortress Monroe, from Richmond, Va., by a flag of truce from Norfolk.
—At Washington, D. C., Daniel S. Dickinson presented a costly stand of State colors to the Dickinson Guard, Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers. E. H. Duell received .them in behalf of the regiment, delivering a felicitous address. Vice-President Hamlin, Gen. Casey and Staff, W. S. Doane, Augustus Schell, and others, were present.
—At seven o’clock this morning an expedition, consisting of three U. S. gunboats, with an additional force of marines, left Ship Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, under command of Commander Melanchthon Smith, U. S. N., for the city of Biloxi, Mississippi. No resistance being met with, Commander Smith landed at the wharf, under a flag of truce, and held a short conference with the Mayor of the city, who, after an hour’s consultation with some prominent citizens, surrendered the town and the battery commanding the harbor. The guns of the battery were dismounted and carried to the boats by U. S. sailors—the inhabitants witnessing the proceedings. While this was transpiring on shore, a schooner was discovered working her way back of Deer Island into Biloxi Bay. A boat was instantly manned and sent in pursuit. After rowing about nine miles, the vessel was overtaken and forced to surrender— she was on her way to New Orleans with thirty thousand feet of hard pine flooring boards as a cargo. It not being Commander Smith’s design to hold Biloxi, the expedition returned this evening to Ship Island with their prize in tow.—(Doc. 245.)
—The Richmond Examiner of to-day, publishes the following on the Confederate Tax Bill: In the Tax bill enacted by the Confederate States Congress there is a clause placing a tax upon “all interest-bearing bonds.” We learn that, according to the construction of the law given by Secretary Memminger, the taxpayer will not be permitted to deduct his liabilities from the amount of money due him, although he may be, in fact, in arrears.
Thus, if his liabilities amount to one hundred thousand dollars, and he holds “interest-bearing bonds” to the amount, of fifty thousand dollars, he has to pay a tax upon the fifty thousand dollars, when, in reality, he is worth nothing. Again: A has purchased a farm at forty thousand dollars, and sold his own for thirty thousand dollars. He is in possession of the forty thousand dollar farm, and has to pay a land tax thereon; at the same time be holds the bonds, “interest-bearing,” for the thirty thousand dollar farm, because the “stay law” prevents their execution. He is, therefore, required to pay a tax upon the thirty thousand dollars, and also upon the forty thousand dollar farm; thus paying a tax upon seventy thousand dollars, when in reality he holds only forty thousand dollars’ worth of property.
His bonds are fastened upon him, and he cannot collect them. Again, B holds A’s bends for the forty thousand dollars farm; B must, therefore, pay a tax upon these bends. Therefore, the land purchased by A from B is paying a double tax; Be is the land sold by A to C; for A pays a tax on C’s bends for thirty thousand dollars, and C pays on the land in kind. Such a law, or the construction of it, is certainly wanting in uniformity and justice.
—At Berlin, above the Point of Rocks, in Maryland, an affair occurred which illustrates the necessity of extreme caution in dealing with the rebels. Two men approached the river on the Virginia side with a flag of truce and begged to be brought over, stating they were refugees. Captain Pardee, of Company A, Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania, gave orders to so dispose of his force as to cover a boat to bring them over, in the mean time entertaining those on the opposite side by conversation to distract their attention. When all was ready he despatched a sergeant and two men in a boat to bring them off. As the boat approached the shore a company of dismounted rebel cavalry showed themselves on the hill above and fired a volley upon the boat. The crew threw themselves overboard toward the Maryland shore, and thus protected pulled the boat across. In the mean time Pardee’s concealed riflemen opened on the cavalry with such effect as to came a stampede with great loss in wounded, at least. One of the boatmen had an ear lacerated by a ball from the cavalry.—N. Y. Evening Post, January 4, 1862.