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Washington, under command of General B. F. Butler, of the Massachusetts volunteers. Third, The department of Pennsylvania, including that state, Delaware and all of Maryland not included in the other departments already mentioned, and with Major General Patterson in command. The extension of the department of Washington to the old limits of the district was for the purpose of including territory absolutely necessary for the defense of the capital.
On the following tenth of May, another department was added to this list, including the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, under the charge of General George B. McClellan. The object of this department was to maintain a defensive line on the Ohio River from Wheeling to Cairo.
On the twenty-ninth of April, Jefferson Davis convened his Congress at Montgomery, and sent them a message which was intended to be a justification of himself and his cause, before the country and the world. It was a document of rare ability, in its plausible presentation of the favorite southern doctrine of state rights, and its rehearsal of the pretended wrongs which the South had suffered at the hands of the North. It must have made a profound impression upon the great multitude of minds ready to receive it among his own people, and upon statesmen abroad who, from the first opening of the American difficulties, manifested a strange ignorance of the genius and structure of American institutions.
It is interesting to notice here the attempt on the part, both of Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Davis, to argue the rightfulness of their respective positions, in a great number of their state papers. Mr. Lincoln's old intellectual struggle with Mr. Douglas had ceased, and Jefferson Davis was now his antagonista man of higher culture and deeper character.
Mr. Davis, in his message, assumed the role of the wronged party. Notwithstanding the fact that he had seized all the property of the United States upon which he could lay his hands, and had, by bombardment, compelled the surrender of Fort Sumter, he tried to shift the burden of opening the war upon Mr. Lincoln, whose call for troops, weeks after a con
federate army was on its feet and actively gathering numbers, was the pretended cause of the convening of the rebel Congress. In this very message, indeed, he announces that there were already nineteen thousand men in different forts, and that sixteen thousand were on their way to Virginia.
In the doctrine of state rights was the only justification of the rebellion; and it was necessary that Mr. Davis should labor to establish it. With him, a state was greater than the United States. The state was sovereign, and the Union was essentially subject. Whenever, therefore, any state should have a plausible pretext for dissolving its union with other states, it had a right to do so. Mr. Davis did not stop to consider that he could not establish a government on any such basis as this, and that the doctrine of state rights would, in the end, be just as fatal to his confederacy as he was endeavoring to make it to the United States. On the other hand, Mr. Lincoln held the Union sovereign and the state subject. A state had no right to coerce a nation into dissolution, any more than a county had a right to force a state into dissolution. He maintained that the United States were a nation, one and indivisible, and that any attempt to dissolve it on the part of a state, or a combination of states, was treason. Here was where the Union and the new confederacy separated. The confederacy was a logical result of the doctrine of state rights, and its destruction, by all the power of the federal government, was the logical necessity of its contravention. Mr. Lincoln believed that a nation had a fundamental right to live, and that the United States were a nation. Mr. Davis believed that the United States were not a nation-or, if one-that it held its only right to live at the will of any state that might choose to exercise it.
On the third of May, Mr. Lincoln found it necessary to call for forty-two thousand additional volunteers, to serve for three years, unless sooner discharged, and for an aggregate of twentytwo thousand seven hundred and fourteen men for different classes of service in the regular army. An additional call for eighteen thousand men to serve in the navy was also made in
the same proclamation. The country gave quick response to this call, and the demand for army volunteers was soon answered to excess.
The area of operations was rapidly spreading. Secessionists in and around St. Louis, Missouri, were plotting for the seizure of the arsenal in that city, but Captain (afterward General) Lyon promptly thwarted the scheme, and secured the arms for the government forces. A secession camp, forming in the same city, was captured, and many within it taken prisoners. The Governor of Missouri was disloyal, and did what he could to throw that state into the hands of the rebels; and General Harney, for a short time in command of the military department of the West, so far aided his schemes as to agree with Sterling Price that the whole duty of maintaining order in the state should be intrusted to the state authorities. Harney was removed, and General Lyon put in his place, with a force for which he found abundant employment, and at the head of which he afterwards fell-one of the first and costliest sacrifices of the war.
During all the first part of May, a secession flag floated over a building in Alexandria, in sight of the capitol at Washington; the rebel forces were gathering at Manassas Junction, and rebel troops held Harper's Ferry. On the twenty-second of May, General Butler took command of the new department of the South, with head-quarters at Fortress Monroe. Five days afterward, he issued his famous order declaring slaves "contraband of war." The phrase imbodied a new idea, which was the germ of a new policy, as well as the basis of a new name for the freed negro. General Butler had under command here about twelve thousand men. Confederate troops were already gathering and fortifying in the vicinity, and on the tenth of June occurred the first considerable battle of the war at Big Bethel. It was a badly managed affair on the part of the Union forces; and, in the excited and expectant state of the public mind, produced a degree of discouragement in the country quite disproportioned to the importance of its results. Here fell Major Winthrop, a young
man of great bravery and rare literary ability. The troops fought well, but were badly handled. Enough was learned, however, of the bravery of the Yankee, to give prophecy of fine results when the art of war should be better learned.
These comparatively small and widely separated movements were but ripples shot out into the coves and reaches of treason from the tidal sweep of the loyal armies, crowding southward to dash against the grand front of the rebellion. The The government had no lack of men; but it suffered sadly for the want of arms to put into their hands. But they were armed in one way and another-some of them very poorly. The impatient people could not know how poorly, because it would expose the weakness of the government to the enemy; so they clamored for a movement, and it was made. On the twenty-fourth of May, General Mansfield began his passage into Virginia. The gallant and lamented Colonel Ellsworth was sent with his regiment of Zouaves to Alexandria; and troops to the number of thirteen thousand were moved across the river, and set to work in the erection of forts for the defense of Washington. Colonel Ellsworth, on landing at Alexandria, without resistance, went personally to the Marshall House, kept by James Jackson, and mounting to the top, pulled down the secession flag with which Jackson had for weeks been insulting the authorities at Washington. On descending, the owner shot him dead, and was in turn immediately shot dead by a private named Brownell, who accompanied his Colonel.
It is interesting to remember the profound impression which the death of this young and enthusiastic officer produced upon the country. He was among the first the nation gave to the war, and his name, with those of Greble and Winthrop, who fell at Big Bethel, and Lyon who afterward fell in Missouri, were embalmed in the fresh sensibilities of the people, and remain there, fixed and fragrant, while thousands of those since fallen have found only weary and sickened hearts to rest in, or memories too sadly crowded with precious names to give them room. Ellsworth's death affected Mr. Lincoln with peculiar sorrow. He had known the young man well. At one
time, Ellsworth was a student in Lincoln & Herndon's office; and he accompanied Mr. Lincoln on his journey to Washington. The body of the young martyr was borne sadly back to Washington, and was received into the White House itself, where the funeral took place, Mr. Lincoln himself assuming the position of chief mourner,
After the accumulation of a large army on the Virginia side of the Potomac, it was determined to push forward the forces then under the command of Major General McDowell, for a battle with the rebel army which had been gathered at Manassas. For this battle each side had been preparing with great industry. The enemy had withdrawn his forces from the occupation of Harper's Ferry, and that important point had passed into federal control. From every quarter he gathered in his troops, or held them within easy call, and waited for the attack. It began on the nineteenth, and ended on the twenty-first of July, in a most terrible rout of the Union forces. The whole army upon which the President and the people had rested such strong hope and expectation was broken in pieces, and came flying back toward Washington, panicstricken, worn out, disorganized and utterly demoralized. They had fought bravely and well; but they were not above influences that have affected armies since time began, and they yielded to fears which made them uncontrollable.
The loss of this battle, fought under the pressure of popular impatience, cost the country a fearful amount of sacrifice. It greatly encouraged the rebels, their sympathizers abroad sent up a shout of triumph, and the loyal masses were put to such a test of their patriotism and determined bravery as they had never been subjected to. The work had all to be done again, under the most discouraging circumstances; but when the case was reviewed, reason was found for gratitude that it had been no worse. Washington, at the close of the battle at Bull Run, was at the mercy of the rebels. It was well that they did not know this, or that, if they knew it, they were not in a condition to push on, and occupy what must have fallen into their hands.