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Civil War in Syria.


July/August 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, July 26, 1860.


The Christians Utterly Defeated—Zahleh Captured, Plundered and Burnt—Desolation of Lebanon—Non-intervention of England—A Boy Hero—Senator Seward’s Horses.

[Correspondence of the Boston Traveller.]

BEIRUT, June 21, 1860.

Zahleh has fallen. The last stronghold of the Christians has been taken, plundered and burnt, and its surviving inhabitants are flying like sheep from the wolves that are now on the track. The Christian army has been annihilated and the Christian power, which has been for ages competing with the Druses, has been crushed. The fleet lay quietly at anchor in the harbor of Beirut, while Zahleh was besieged, sacked and laid in ruins-and the Consuls General, who have hitherto been so potent and mighty, have held daily and nightly consultations in vain. The desolation of the “goodly Lebanon” was decreed, and the besom of destruction had laid it waste.

The consuls were in secret conclave all night, after the news of the sacking of Zahleh was received, to devise ways and means for the rescue of the surviving Christians of the country from general massacre. What they have done has not transpired, but the butchery of the remainder of the one hundred and fifty thousand Christians is a sad thing to contemplate. We had hoped that the steamers of this week would have brought authority from the powers that be to land marines for an armed interference, but in this we were disappointed. True, the consuls were instructed to stop the war as soon as possible, but no power was placed at their disposal to conquer a peace. Moral suasion has not, in this barbarous land, the influence it enjoys in more civilized climes, and only an armed intervention can convince these blood-thirsty Druses that the European powers are in earnest.

The absurdity of the present arrangement is loudly proclaimed by the coups de cannon which even now shake my windows. The Queen, an English line-of-battle ship, has just arrived from Gibraltar, and is saluting the town. Twenty-one guns from H. B. M.’s ship of one hundred and twenty guns, and twenty-one guns from the battery of the town, have a warlike sound, but they are mere courtesies, and have no effect upon the war. The Druses continue to butcher the Christians, to burn their towns, and kill their children within hearing of these courteous salutes. The policy of England with reference to Turkey is fraught with many evil consequences. Determined at all hazards to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, she is unfavorable to the investigation proposed by Russia into the condition of the Christians in Turkey, and declares that the Hatti Hamayoun is not a dead letter. England doubtless fears the effect of an investigation, and dreads the partition of Turkey. And we all see with regret that England has intimated to the Sublime Porte that if the Sultan objects to the investigation by Consuls she will not insist upon it-thus in the plainest manner advising that the Consuls be not allowed to participate in the investigation. If the commission is purely Turkish, all the evidence collected by the Consuls will be of no use. We await the issue with much anxiety. Missionary work is at a stand still in Mount Lebanon. It may be that all Franks will be driven from the land, for a time at least.

The United States Consul has repeatedly warned the Americans of their danger, and informed them that a residence in the mountains is no longer safe. Many have come down. Today the mission of Beirut passed a vote requesting the Rev. Mr. Calhoun, of Aleep, the President of the college at that place, together with Mr. Bird, of Deiril Kenir, to come to Beirut at once.

The Christians throughout this war have been most cowardly, but the defence of Zahleh, the most warlike town in Lebanon, was conducted with much spirit. As an illustration of the manner in which the desperate forlorn hope of the Christians behaved in this last battle, in which about seven thousand Druses and Arabs were engaged in the siege, I will refer to only one case at present.

The Druses had gained the suburbs of the town, and had succeeded in setting fire to about a score of houses, when the Christians rallied and drove them out upon the plain. The Druses were led by a most ferocious and blood-thirsty chief, Kange el Amad. In the Christian army was a lad of fourteen years of age who determined to die in defence of his home. He rushed into the ranks of the enemy, and shooting the chief, fell, pierced by spears and bullets.

The chief was killed, and the little hero shared his grave.

The destruction of Sidon has just been reported. Two thousand and five hundred Christians are said to have been killed by Moslems and Druses. This intelligence requires confirmation, and is not generally credited.

The American bark Speedwell will leave this port next week for Boston, freighted with wool. It also takes the horses of Senator Seward, which were presented to him while in this country by a Christian officer of the Turkish government.