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RICHMOND MADE THE CAPITAL.

CHAP. XXXIX.]

105

The Conspiracy had no intention originally of establishing its seat of government at Richmond. That was a part of the price exacted by Virginia for her secession, and it was not paid without reluctance. It is to be remembered that at that time every thing seemed to turn on what the Border States would do. Lincoln spared no exertion to induce them to retain their allegiance: it was that consideration alone that caused him to deal so reluctantly with the slave question. On the other hand, Davis, both by promises and by violence, sought to draw due to political ne- them over to his side. Had a Southern town, cessity.

measure was

as Montgomery, been selected for a capital, measures like those which were actually carried into ef fect for the defense of Richmond must have been resorted to. Virginia, the most powerful of the Southern States, must have been stripped of her troops for the defense of a distant point, as Florida and Arkansas were, and thereby left an unresisting prey to the devastation of Northern armies; but by establishing the seat of government at Richmond, it became certain that the most powerful of the Southern armies would always be present in Virginia. If Virginia had been abandoned, all the Border States would have gone with the North.

So far as the permanent interests of the Confederacy were concerned, the views of those who look

Richmond was not

the seat of power to ed with disfavor on the selection of Richthe Confederacy.

mond were doubtless correct. But, in fact, in such movements as that of secession, the seat of power lies not in any territorial locality; it is in the army. Richmond might have been taken, as Nashville was, and that without producing any definite result. Had M'Clel lan crowned his Peninsular campaign with its capture, it would have availed nothing so long as there were powerThat was in the ful armies still in the field. The overthrow of the Confederacy could be accomplished

army.

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WASHINGTON AND RICHMOND.

106

[SECT. VII.

only, and, indeed, was accomplished only, by the destruc tion or surrender of those armies.

Very different was it with Washington; that was recognized all over the world as the long-estab

But is

the nation.

the seat of power of lished seat of the American government. Its fall would have been to the North an irreparable loss. There is now but little doubt that, had the Confederacy been able to seize it, European recognition would at once have followed. It was the clear percep tion of this relative value that controlled Lincoln's movements in the Peninsular campaign: he perceived that Richmond was no equivalent for Washington. And, on the other hand, there never was a moment at which Davis would not have been glad that Richmond should have been wrested from him, if, at the same time, he could have secured Washington.

Coincidence of the

It may, perhaps, not be inappropriate here to remark that the reasons which originally led to the metropolis with the selection of Washington as the metropolitan centre power. site have in the course of events lost their weight. So long as the republic consisted of the colonial settlements on the Atlantic border, Washington was cen trally situated. But what might answer for a narrow coast border does not apply to a continent. Washington has been captured by a foreign army once, and has been in imminent peril of capture again and again during the Civil War. It has ceased to be the appropriate site for the metropolis of the great continental republic. During the recent strife its defense not only cost many thousands of lives and many millions of money: it also paralyzed some of the most important movements of the war. But as the old colonial states decline in relative political sig nificance, and the weight of power settles in the West, it Possible transfer is not improbable that Western influence predominating will draw the capital into the

ence to the Mis-
sissippi Valley,

WASHINGTON AND RICHMOND.

107

Mississippi Valley, in absolute security from all foreign attack, and territorially central.

The Confederates having determined on the transfer of their seat of government to Richmond, the

Opening of the Con

federate Congress in necessary preparations were completed, and their Congress opened its first session in that

Richmond.

city on the 20th of July, 1861.

CHAP. XXXIX.]

CHAPTER XL.

THE ATTEMPTED SEIZURE OF THE CAPITAL AND MEXICANIZATION OF THE REPUBLIC. BATTLE OF BULL RUN.

The Confederate authorities concentrated troops at Manassas for the purpose of capturing Washington and Mexicanizing the republic.

Lincoln was compelled, by their encroachments upon him, to invade Virginia, and

to construct fortifications for the defense of Washington.

He was constrained to use the three-months' men, obtained by the proclamation,

to attack the Confederates on the line of Bull Run.

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN. The South was dissatisfied that its great victory was not crowned by the capture of Washington.

Political interpretation of the battle.

WHEN the news of the fall of Fort Sumter reached Montgomery, the Confederate Secretary of War, Mr. Walker, declared: "No man can foretell the events of the war now inaugu rated; but this I will venture to predict, that the Confederate flag will, before the 1st of May, float over the dome of the Capitol at Washington."

That minister had reasons for his prophecy. He knew and engage in plots that "a formidable organization had existed for that purpose. all the winter in Baltimore, and in the counties adjacent to Washington, having for its object the capture of that city, the seizure of the government officers, and the inauguration of a provisional government in the interests of the South. The conspirators expected by this step to obtain control of the Army, Navy, and Treasury. Their forces were under the orders of two leading Southern men-one from Texas, who was subsequently slain in battle; the other from Virginia."

In a speech delivered at Atlanta, Alexander H. Ste

The Confederates expect to seize Washington,

PROPOSED CAPTURE OF WASHINGTON.

CHAP. XL.]

109

phens declared that, "if Maryland secedes, the District of Columbia falls to her by reversionary right, as Sumter fell to South Carolina. When we have that right we will demand the surrender of Washington just as we did in other cases, and will enforce our demand at every haz ard and at whatever cost."

This desperate scheme, originally plotted in secrecy, was soon publicly hailed with transport. In all direc tions the Southern newspapers urged that it should be instantly carried into effect. They declared that it was the unanimous resolution of the Southern raised for its cap- people, and that President Davis would soon march an army through North Carolina and Virginia to Washington. They recommended volunteers to hold themselves in readiness to join the expedition.

An army to be

türe.

Accordingly, as soon as Virginia had resolved to join the Confederacy, and had placed her military resources at its command, the most strenuous exertions were made to accomplish this great object.

Troops from all parts of the South were hurried to Troops concentra- Manassas Junction, a point on the railroad ted at Manassas. between Washington and Richmond, where a branch comes in from the Shenandoah Valley. It was no especial prevision of military science which led to the selection of that position. It was no perception that the Confederacy must be first defended at its outworks, for, so far from supposing that it would be put into a state of siege, the universal belief was that the war on which it was entering was to be an expedition of invasion, an of fensive movement against the North. Manassas Junction was selected, not because it covered Richmond, but because it threatened Washington. It is about thirty miles from the latter city.

This important point secured, the next step would have been the occupation of Arlington Heights, which over

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