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CHAP. XLI.] REACTION OF THE SLAVERY WAR-CRY.
flict. And that was the real character of the contending antagonists of this Civil War. Moreover, though the South, at the beginning, derived most important advan tages in accomplishing the unifying of her entire population by putting forth the preservation of Slavery as the Reaction of the grand object of the war, it led eventually to a fatal result. The slave became at last, not fictitiously, but in reality, the stake played for. The South could not lose him without absolute ruin. It was the loss of her labor-force, without which her lands were worth pothing.
Persons who thus considered the subject perceived that the war would be no affair of ninety days, but that it would go on until the weaker party was utterly exhausted and the great stake won.
By those skillful officers who brought the war to a close, these principles were clearly recog principles by Grant nized, as may be seen from the strategy they adopted. They looked upon all oper. ations in the right region as without effect; they considered it as incorrect to have many converging lines of operation; they perceived the true function of the central region, and the inevitable effect of a powerful movement through it. They did not fall a second time into the blunder of making the main operation in the left region a combined one of the army and navy, as was done in the Peninsular campaign. Coast operations and expeditions they regarded in the light of mere indecisive adventures. They raised no cry for the capture of Richmond; they did not even deign to enter it in triumph when it was spontaneously falling, but pursued the fugitive remnant of the ruined army with inexorable energy, applying the military principle that had been inaugurated in the Wilderness, until Appomattox Court-house was reached.
CHANGES IN THE QUALITY OF THE ARMIES. [SECT. VIII.
Viewed in the manner thus presented, the various operations of the war stand in their proper position, and are capable of easy interpretation. The battle of Bull Run, as we have seen, was nearly without military significance; politically, it meant the failure of that portion of the plan of the Conspiracy which had reference to the capture of Washington. Nor is there any importance to be attached to the affairs of Big Bethel, Ball's Bluff, Drainesville. They were merely personal encounters.
True epoch of the
In fact, true warlike operations can not be said to have begun until the issue of Lincoln's order dicommencement of recting the movements of the armies on February 22d, 1862. The issue of that order followed the appointment of Stanton as Secretary of War, and was due to his suggestions.
The events of the war interpreted on these ideas.
Though the completion of the organization of the Army of the Potomac by General McClellan marks the close of the preparatory period and the commencement of military movements properly speaking, these movements still continued to be of a mixed kindnot purely military, but influenced also by political considerations. There may be discerned on the part of the government an intention to give to certain officers the opportunity of acquiring military reputation. But this can not be regarded as altogether blameworthy. A government influenced by profound convictions that the principles on which it is acting are those most certain to insure the welfare of the nation is entitled to bring into fitting prominence men who will carry those principles into effect.
The changes in its conduct.
The quality of the armies themselves by degrees underwent an observable change. It is a great step from McDowell's army of Bull Run to McClellan's of the Peninsula, but it is a still
Perfection gradually reached by the armies.
greater to Grant's army of the final Virginia campaign. The cohesion, mobility, and co-ordination of all its parts, which makes an army like a beautiful machine, is only slowly attained. "Not until after Vicksburg did the armies begin to assume the form and consistency of real armies; not until after that can their generals be held to a closer criticism." Halleck's campaign, ending in the breaking of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, is the transition to the great campaigns of Grant and Sherman, which were conducted with purely military intentions, and on purely military principles.
Predominating power of the North.
POWER OF THE NORTH.
The possibility of putting the Confederacy in a state of siege demonstrated, in the most unmis takable manner, the predominating power of the North; but that predominance was not to be measured by the relative population of the two sections. It was commonly said that the population of the insurgent states was twelve millions; that of the loyal states eighteen; but the disparity between them was vastly greater than is indicated by those numbers. The machine power of the South bore no appreciable proportion to the machine power of the North; and more particularly was this true of marine machinery; but it was upon that form that the capability of maintaining an ef fective blockade depended.
Sorties of the
The South was thus thrown upon the defensive from the beginning of the struggle, and very soon effectually beleaguered. Her four great military movements, culminating at Antietam, Murfreesbor ough, Gettysburg, and Nashville, present the aspect of sorties.
There was another fact which manifestly and seriously diminished the intrinsic power of the South. of the slave force. Of the estimated twelve millions of her population, one third was negro slaves. As long as her an
INFLUENCE OF THE SLAVE FORCE.
tagonist, from political motives, refrained from touching this element, it added a delusive strength to the Confederacy. The slave prepared food and forage in the fields while the master and his sons were in the army. It was, however, impossible that such a condition of things should continue long. Legitimately as a measure of war, the government might detach that dangerous class from the side of the South-a measure which, under the cir cumstances, could not fail to be decisive of the strife.
ACTS OF THE PROVISIONAL AND PERMANENT CONFEDERATE
The important measures of the Confederate Congresses were transacted in secret sessions.
At the meeting specially summoned by Davis for the 29th of April, 1861, he gave
an exposition of the causes which had led to secession.
The provisional Congress ended its sessions on the 15th of February, 1862, and was succeeded by the permanent Congress. The chief public acts of each related. The government of the Confederacy became so despotic in its conduct, and secret in its proceedings, as to give rise to great dissatisfaction.
THE public acts of the Confederate Congress present a very imperfect view of the measures adopted by the Confederate government.
Before hostilities commenced, it was found expedient that all the more important of those measures should be matured in secrecy. During the war the necessity of this course became more and more urgent. A standing resolution required that all war business should be transacted in secret session, and by degrees this included every thing of general interest. Attempts were repeatedly made by different members of Congress to bring about a change; but they were unavailing. The war operations controlled all other movements; they were determined, perhaps too often, by the Confederate President himself. The secret history of the Confederacy is not to be looked for in the secret sessions of its Congress-not even in the councils of the cabinet. On the President rests the responsibility of what was done.
The important sessions of Congress secret.
The President controls all military operations.