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CHAP. XLI.]

135

over those white cotton lands, those fields of tobacco and maize, has engendered its natural, its inevitable product. It is no political confederacy that we look upon-it is a Despotism.

Men are con

Along the sea-coast, on every fort a flag is flying— not those of the various sovereign states. It is the flag of a central power, every where the same. structing fortifications in all directions-some in the interior, some on the line of the Mississippi, some along the sea. Cannon, the spoils of Norfolk Navy Yard, are being dragged to these works. In every town, and court-house, and hamlet, men are drilling; their uniform clothing in gray answers to the uniform flag. The pursuits of peace are turned over to slaves. The factories that are busy are armories, machine-shops, founderies for shot and shell, gunpowder laboratories. White tents that are dotting it all over tell us that this is not the agricultural country it used to be. It is a vast military camp.

INTERIOR OF THE CONFEDERACY.

A despotism and a military camp! No matter under what name things may be passing, that is the reality to which they have come!

Military topography

To the eye of the national military critic, looking from the North, the country it is now proposed of the Confederacy. to assail presents three distinctly marked regions, to which he gives the designations of the right, the central, the left, respectively. They are not bounded by merely imaginary lines, but parted by grand geographical objects. The right region is all that portion of the insurgent territory west of the Mississippi River; the central region is the country lying between the Mississippi and the Alleghany Mountains; the left is that lying between those mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. The great natural lines of separation thus dividing the Confederacy are the Mississippi River and the Alleghany Mountains.

Its three regions, or

zones.

136

[SECT. VIII.

These three military regions are not of equal importance. The right, or trans-Mississippi, is nec

INTERIOR OF THE CONFEDERACY.

most important.

Their relative value. essarily weaker, since it is separated from the others by a broad and difficult river, across which communication may be interrupted: it is intrinsically of little military value, sparsely peopled, unhealthy, its resources comparatively little developed, its roads and lines of transportation imperfect. On the other hand, in the left The left zone the region, or that included between the Alleghany Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, are many great cities, among them the capital of the Confederacy. This region has a dense population, many lines of locomotion, and abundant facilities for transporta tion. Virginia, which is its most northerly portion, stands like a vast bastion to the Confederacy, its flanked angle projecting toward the Free States. The upheaval of the Alleghanies in former ages (vol. i., p. 68) has given her a system of longitudinal valleys running to the northeast: her mountain ranges consist of majes

Military topography of Virginia.

tic folds of the earth's crust, with those depressions between them. Here and there transversal and secondary valleys cross through the mountain lines-gaps, in the country language. Screened from observation, through the main valleys as through sally-ports the forces of the Confederacy may securely move.

Such was the general aspect of the South. Her capacity for war lay in the staple products she had on hand and those that her slaves might be found willing to raise. Her financial strength, which was the measure of her war-strength, turned on the pos

sibility of converting those products into gold. None but desperate gamesters would undertake to conduct vast military movements by an unlimited is sue of paper based upon nothing; but the rattle of dice

The financial capacity of the Cotton States for war.

CHAP. XLI.] INVESTMENT OF THE CONFEDERACY.

was already audible in the council chamber at Richmond. There were, however, many able and patriotic men in the seceding states, who, accepting as an accomplished fact the calamity into which their country had been plunged, and willing to make the best of it, unceasingly urged upon the Confederate government the seizure of the cotton and its rapid shipment to Europe. As

Mistake in not send

ing the cotton to Eu- is commonly the case in the uproar of rebellions and revolutions, the voice of wisdom

rope.

137

was not heard.

The South must de

And now arose before the national government the question how it should reduce this insurgent population -a population brave enough and numerous enough to accomplish its intention, if only it were rich enough. But this population had never clothed itself, never fed itself. It depended on foreign sources. If such had pend on foreign sup- always been its condition in a state of peace, much more must it be so now in a state of war: rifles, cannon, munitions of every kind must be brought from abroad. Three million bales of cotton might, perhaps, be raised by the slave force: this would go far to meet these wants if it had an unobstructed transit across the sea.

plies.

Such considerations, therefore, settled the question as to what, for the national government, was the proper form of war. A closure of the Southern ports or their blockade was the correct antagonism. In the ur

A blockade of her

on.

ports determined gency of the moment a blockade was adopted. Perhaps it had been better (p. 29) had a simple closure been preferred. Practically, however, so far as the government and its opponent were concerned, the same force must be resorted to in either case.

Thus the character or aspect which the war must needs Conditions of a assume was quickly manifested. The issue complete blockade. obviously turned on this: Had the govern

INVESTMENT OF THE CONFEDERACY.

138

[SECT. VIII.

ment sufficient physical power to enforce and maintain such a beleaguering? Could it make the Atlantic an im penetrable sea?

But more-it must arrest ingress and egress along the north front of the Border States, and along the west front of the trans-Mississippi regions. To accomplish all this, it must call into existence powerful navies and vast armies.

It must shut up hermetically an area of 733,144 square The vast extent of miles; it must guard by armies an interior country shut up. boundary-line 7031 miles in length, and by ships a coast-line of 3523 miles, a shore-line of 25,414 miles—that is, actually more than the entire circumfer ence of the earth (24,895 miles).

What-viewed as a military operation-was all this? Was it not a vast siege, throwing into nothingness all previous sieges in the world's history?

We may, then, excuse the incredulity with which for eign nations regarded the attempt of the republic to carry out her intention of reducing to obedience twelve millions of people intrenched in what seemed to be impregnable works. Especially may we do this when we recall the fact that the initial military force by which it was to be accomplished was an army of 16,000 men, and a navy of 42 ships.

Apparent impossibility of such an investment.

But it was not merely a passive encircling of the Character of the ag- Confederacy which was needed; there must gressive operations. also be offensive and aggressive movements. Hence it was necessary to determine what were the proper points of the application of force, and which the correct lines of its direction.

At this time the military topography of the country was little known, and many mistakes were takes committed. made in dealing with this problem. It was long before those generals who had true professional

Preliminary mis

CHAP. XLI.] THE NECESSARY MILITARY OPERATIONS.

139

views on the subject could secure their adoption, and accomplish a separation of crude political intentions from scientific military movements. In the inexperience of the times, instead of one grand and overwhelming plan of operations, a dozen little ones were resorted to. Wherever there was political influence there was a political clamor, and to that point a military force must be sent. In the beginning of 1862, the period we have now more partic ularly under consideration, "there were not less than ten different national armies, and as many different lines of operation, all acting more or less concentrically on the theatre of war. Not one was so strong but that the Confederates might have concentrated a stronger against it." The ablest military critics were loudly declaiming against such a violation of the rules of their art.

In deciding on warlike operations, two things must be considered: 1st. The political object proposed to be attained. 2d. The military movements necessary for its ac complishment. Not unfrequently these seem to involve contradictions.

The opening of the Mississippi was the political object of the West; the capture of Richmond that of the East; but, in a military sense, neither of these could in itself be decisive, and, so far as they might be made the ultimate object of the warlike operations, they could be considered only as mistakes.

At first it was supposed that the opening of the Mississippi must be accomplished by operations on its waters, an opinion much strengthened by the brilliant success of Farragut in the capture of New Orleans; but that great officer himself was destined to furnish a proof of the inadequacy of this method. In the attack he made on Vicksburg, though many hundred shot and shell were thrown into the place, no impression whatever was made upon it; not a single

The political objects proposed.

First ideas as to the mode of opening the Mississippi.

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