« ПредишнаНапред »
who showed a bold front, and even made inroads on McClellan's rear. "The army," says the Federal General at this time, "is not now in condition to undertake another campaign, nor to bring on another battle, unless great advantages are offered by some mistake of the enemy, or pressing military exigencies render it necessary." All this, of course, afforded a handle to his enemies, to be worked in due season. Meanwhile he remained guarding the Potomac, and devising plans for an advance. While the river was low, and the enemy could cross easily, he was desirous of advancing from its upper course along the Shenandoah valley, thus covering Maryland by his front. But the President, who was always fully alive to any danger threatening the capital wherein he resided, was anxious to see McClellan's army interposed between himself and Lee, and urged that it should occupy the eastern side of the Blue Ridge, basing on Alexandria. Willing to gratify Mr Lincoln, McClellan, as soon as the rainy season rendered the passage of the Potomac precarious to Lee, commenced the movement east of the Blue Ridge, towards Warrenton, seizing the gaps as he passed, to prevent the enemy from issuing on his communications with the Potomac; for he remained dependent on his depots at Harper's Ferry and Berlin till he should reach the Manassas Railroad, when the line of the upper Potomac would be no longer important. Supposing that Lee should be parallel to him on the other side of the Ridge, he meant to move south till he should find the enemy's main body between him and the Potomac-when, forcing his way into the valley, he would get in their rear, and, if he could defeat, would destroy them. This simple plan did not sound very feasible in practice against Lee; and McClellan says "I hardly hoped to accomplish this, but did expect that by striking in between Culpepper Court House and Little Washington, I could either separate their
army and beat them in detail, or else force them to concentrate as far back as Gordonsville, and thus place the army of Potomac in position either to adopt the Fredericksburg line of advance upon Richmond, or to be removed to the Peninsula.”
These movements, continued for ten days, brought the Federal force about Warrenton, and McClellan believes he was in a position to separate and defeat the enemy, when any such untoward exercise of zeal on his part was effectually prevented by Messieurs Stanton and Halleck. "I was confident of decisive victory," he says (he had often been confident of that), "when, in the midst of the movement, while my advanced-guard was actually in contact with the enemy, I was removed from the command." It would perhaps have fared better with him then, had he resented previous injuries more indignantly. Could it have been supposed that he would use the influence he undoubtedly possessed for his own purposes, the risk of offending him, when so powerful, would have been too great. A spice of the Napoleon or the Cromwell temper might have caused him to conclude an armistice with Lee, march on Washington, hurl from their seats the clique that burlesqued a government-and that would have been the reproach even of nations whose pretensions were moderate, and who did not select their own rulers-and seize the loose reins of empire. But he was not of that fiery stamp. He received the mandate with submission, and retired into private life, leaving his army to be shattered against the Confederate lines at Fredericksburg by Burnside, and at Chancellorsville by Hooker.
Notwithstanding our entire belief that the popular opinion which ascribes to McClellan's generalship the grave defects of slowness and over-caution is correct, we think he is by far the best leader that has yet conducted a Federal army. Setting aside the numerous failures
whom we have been regularly required to accept as great commanders, we see none among those whose incompetence has been less obvious, or whose success has been more considerable, whom we would place beside, far less above, McClellan. For instance, let us consider the campaign of Grant.
This commander was free last spring to choose his own line of operation in the campaign that had been so boastfully announced, and so elaborately provided for. He had the experience of other Generals, in many preceding campaigns, to enlighten him on the special obstacles and special facilities which existed on each route to Richmond. Fremont, Milroy, Banks, and other hapless military pretenders, could tell him what pitfalls lurked for incompetence in the Shenandoah valley. If he wanted information about the line of the Orange Railway from Alexandria to the Rapidan, he could obtain plenty from General Pope. M'Dowell, Burnside, and Hooker, could tell him what sort of obstacle the Rappahannock interposed to an advance by the Fredericksburg road-and the first of these had traversed a great part of that road in his movement to join McClellan. Lastly, the lines from the Pamunkey on the one side, and from the James on the other, to the Chickahominy, had been amply illustrated by the events which we have been reviewing. Deliberating, then, on all these alternatives, the command of the rivers left him free to choose among them. If he wished to operate by either bank of the James, there was nothing to prevent him from making Bermuda Hundred (the starting-point of Butler) the base of the whole army. But he deliberately selected the Fredericksburg roadnot aiming at it through Fredericks burg, which would have involved so long a movement to his left that Lee might have discovered it, and have had time to interpose, but selecting the fords by which Hooker had crossed to fight at Chancellors
ville. Quitting Lee's front on the upper stream, he concentrated at the fords below, and began to cross. His idea was obvious. If he could collect his army on the south bank, and move obliquely by the Wilderness towards Bowling Green, he would be much nearer Richmond than Lee was, and he probably calculated that his antagonist, thus cut from the capital, would be forced to regain it by the long circuit of the upper James; but that, in any case, his own superior numbers. would enable him at once to hold Lee at bay, and to invest the capital. This plan was baffled at its very outset. Lee followed the movement to the fords so rapidly that his leading divisions formed across the heads of Grant's columns: as they moved up from the riverand but for the unfortunate wound which Longstreet received from his own men as he was advancing to complete the discomfiture of the invaders, the Wilderness would probably have been the scene of the beginning and ending of this campaign. As it was, Lee easily regained the direct line to Richmond, and took up a position on it which Grant in vain assailed. Baffled in front, he moved off to his left until his circuit brought his rear towards the Peninsula, when, his line by Fredericksburg being quite uncovered, he began to draw his supplies from the Pamunkey. Next he tried to break into Richmond through its eastern defences, and sustained what was probably the bloodiest of his many bloody defeats. Shifting to the James, he crossed it, and commenced that advance on Petersburg which has lasted until now, respecting which line of operation against Richmond we will offer a few remarks.
In commenting on McClellan's. operations we pointed out that the President's fears of an attack on Washington were unfounded, provided a great Federal force were east of Richmond, such as the General wished and designed to accumulate there. For such an army
must always menace the communi-
possible for Lee to direct any
struggles, and the enormous, un-
But there is one
but the immense superiority of the North, employed in an honourforce which Grant has possessed able and civilised contest. It was throughout the campaign has pre- while he was smarting on the banks vented this blot from being fatally of the James from the blows inI hit by his skilful and determined flicted on the Chickahominy, an
Seeing, then, what Grant has ac
enemy in front stil him with destruction, that he wrote, complished and failed to accomplish in an address to the President, the
-looking at the position he has established himself in after so many
"This rebellion has
character of war; as such it should be regarded; and it should be conducted I upon the highest principles known to Christian civilisation. It should not be
a war looking to the subjugation of the people of any state, in any event. It should not be at all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political organisations. Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organisation of states, or forcible abolition of slavery, should be contemplated for a moment. In prosecuting the war, all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of military operations. All private property taken for military use should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes; all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited, and offensive demeanour by the military towards citizens promptly rebuked. Military arrests should not be tolerated, except in places where active hostilities exist, and oaths not required by enactments constitutionally made should be neither demanded nor received. Military government should be confined to the preservation of public order and the protection of political rights.
In the approaching contest for the Presidency, the issue submitted to the people of the North is sufficiently clear. Both candidates have declared for the prosecution of the war. The election of McClellan means humane and civilised war. It would be a confession that the savage nature of the contest has been repugnant to the spirit of the majority of the Northern people; it would be a vast step towards retrieving the deep stigma which now rests upon them. It would be, too, a recognition of the claims of worth, sense, and respectability in a contest for rule, and, so far, a return to the principles on which the Union was framed; and it would be a guarantee for the restoration throughout the North of that freedom without which the word Constitution is a mockery.
re-election of Lincoln would mean that the sentiments of the Northern people are fitly represented by him, his Ministers, and Generals-that, for the sake of producing a hideous caricature of their former partner
ship in government, they are ready to sanction more cruelties in the South more peculation, corruption, and tyranny, in the North— and to inspire civilised nations with more horror and disgust for the frenzied acts in which they express devotion to their political Moloch.
The interest of the South in the election is chiefly contained in the question, "Will McClellan be readier to make peace than Lincoln?" He has answered this in the negative. The Union," he says in his late manifesto, repeating it with a needless stolid reitera"must be preserved at all tion, hazards." This announcement took the world by surprise- for though he had always proclaimed his loyalty to the Union, yet there was nothing in his previous professions which would have been inconsistent with the declaration that all permissible means had been tried in vain, that a prosecution of the war threatened the ruin not only of the South but of the whole continent, and that his voice should now be raised for separation.
And as these certainly were supposed to be the sentiments of the party which made him its candidate, it is to be presumed that, before nominating him, the Democratic leaders had ascertained his opinions to be generally concurrent with their own. Perhaps they were- but incidents occurred to create a change in public feeling which neither McClellan nor any other public man in that country can venture to oppose. The defences of Mobile fell-Sherman captured Atlanta-Sheridan obtained a success, the popular delight at which reveals how much the North is compelled to respect the military genius of the South, since the victory, whatever its real extent may prove when it is divested of Mr Stanton's exaggerations, was obtained with a superiority in numbers of about three to one. The advocates of peace were silenced, and McClellan made that declaration of war principles which, while
it was so ill-timed as to deprive his course of all appearance of independence, was also so ill-judged as to alienate from him the strength of his party. The South, then, seeing him thus committed to a war policy, would probably rather submit to the fresh outrages and injuries that the re-election of Lincoln will entail, confident, as they must be, that these, after all, must really strengthen their cause, than see the still formidable resources of the North in the hands of one so much more competent to direct them.
Meanwhile, the war must go on with its exhibition of constancy on the one side, and truculence on the other. And the onlookers, while very calm and measured in their admiration of the constancy, damning it with very faint praise, are extremely indulgent to the truculence, nay, in some cases, applaud
it. It is easy to understand why the majority of the people of the North approve the conduct of the war, if we admit sorrowfully that the base temptations of gain and of gratified rancour may be too strong for ordinary consciences. But it is not so easy to understand what possible interest people in England can have in joining the frenzied cry for Union. Strange to say, it is our Radical newspapers which now proclaim that it is permissible for any people to choose their form of government except the members of a democracy that the dissolution of a political partnership, which does not fulfil the ends for which it was instituted, is a crime to be appropriately visited with extermination — and to greet each new act of atrocity with shouts of applause, which may well be echoed in laughter by the devils.
Printed by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh.