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THE INACTIVITY OF MʻCLELLAN.
resist such accomplishment, the most stupendous military preparations were made on both sides. General McClellan had, in the Autumn of 1861, under his immediate command at Washington and vicinity, and on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and at Fortress Monroe, more than 200,000 well appointed, well armed and well disciplined men. was called the Army of the Potomac. General Buell had, in Kentucky, more than 100,000 men. The rebel force opposed to General McClellan, was estimated at 175,000 men, but it is now known to have been less, and occupied positions at Yorktown and Fredericksburg; the main body fortified at Centreville, the left wing extending to Leesburg, with detachments at Winchester and Martinsburg.
General McClellan had, as commander-in-chief, control over Halleck, commander of the Department of the West, Buell, commanding in Kentucky, Burnside, in North Carolina, and W. T. Sherman, in South Carolina.
The inactivity of General McClellan in the Autumn and Winter of 1861–2, was a source of dissatisfaction and complaint on the part of the people and Congress, and uneasiness on the part of the President. He had under his immediate command, the largest and best equipped and appointed army of the United States. The weather during all that Autumn and Winter, into February, was the finest possible; clear and dry, and the roads in good order, and yet with his vast army, he permitted the Potomac to be blockaded by shore batteries at Acquia Creek and elsewhere; and the rebel flag to be raised and flaunted in his face and that of the Nation, from the hills which overlook Washington, and within sight of the dome of the Capitol. But even this did not provoke the extremely cautious, “Young Napoleon,” as General McClellan was called, to make any vigorous efforts to dislodge the rebels and drive them away.
This was the era of magnificent reviews, brilliant parades, showy uniforms and festive parties.
Impatient of the inactivity of the army under General McClellan, the President, after seeing the Summer and the Autumn pass slowly away, on the 27th of January, issued the following order :
"EXECUTIVE MANSION, January 27, 1862. "PRESIDENT'S GENERAL WAR ORDER, No. 1.
"Ordered that the 22d day of February, 1862, be the day for a general movement of the land and naval forces of the United States against the insurgent forces. That especially
"The Army at and about Fortress Monroe.
" And a Naval force in the Gulf of Mexico, be ready for a movement on that day.
"That all other forces, both land and naval, with their respective commanders, obey existing orders for the time, and be ready to obey additional orders, when duly given.
"That the Heads of Departments, and especially the Secretaries of War and of the Navy, with all their subordinates, and the General-inChief, with all other commanders and subordinates of land and naval forces, will severally be held to their strict and full responsibilities for the prompt execution of this order.
While the Army of the Potomac was chafing under its constrained idleness, the Western troops, far less perfectly armed and appointed, and which had been compelled to take the refuse arms from the East, were constantly marching and fighting. On the 6th of November, General Grant, moving from Cairo, attacked and took possession of Belmont, and destroyed the military stores, belonging to the enemy, at that place. This was the beginning of the brilliant military career of the Lieutenant General.
Colonel Garfield, of Ohio, on the 10th of January, defeated Ilumphrey Marshall at Middle Creek, near Paintsville, Kentucky.
On the 19th of January, General George H. Thomas, the loyal Virginia soldier, gained the brilliant victory over the rebel General Zollikoffer, at Mill Spring. Zollikoffer was killed in this battle, fighting with a valor worthy of a better
These inspiriting successes did not entirely dissipate the gloom which prevailed, growing out of the mysterious inaction of the Grand Army of the Potomac.
CAPTURE OF FORTS HENRY AND DONELSON.
The rebel lines in Tennessee and Kentucky were penetrated by the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. These rivers running northerly empty into the Ohio. To secure these rivers against the approach of gun-boats, which the sagacity of Fremont had early caused to be constructed for the Mississippi and its tributaries, the insurgents had constructed Fort Henry on the Tennessee, and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland.
Flag officer Foote, one of the most brave, energetic, skillful Christian officers who ever trod the deck of a gunboat, commanded the fleet on the Western rivers. General Grant and the Commodore coöperating, in January, planned an attack on Fort Henry. Foote, on the 6th of February, with his gunboats, attacked and captured Fort Henry, before the land force under Grant reached the fort.
General Grant immediately moved to the attack of Fort Donelson, and with the gunboats of Commodore Foote, invested the fort on the 16th of February. After several days of hard fighting, a flag of truce was sent to General Grant, by General Buckner, in command of the fort, asking for an armistice for the purpose of settling terms of surrender. General Grant replied: "No terms except unconditional and immeiliate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately on your works.” The garrison did not wait the attack, but surrendered at discretion. General Buckner, and about 15,000 troops, and 20,000 stand of arms, were surrendered to General Grant. This victory, and the note of General Grant to Buckner, gave to “U. S. Grant," the jo, name of : unconditional surrender Grant."
This magnificent success, electrified the country, and Wr. Lincoln, whose face had become care-worn and anxious, looked ten years younger, the evening of the reception of the news. Congress was jubilant.
On the next day, the 17th, a member of Congress opened his speech, with the expression, “twenty millions of people, are to day rejoicing over a great victory, the most brilliant of the war.”
General Floyd, who had command, and who was the treacherous Secretary of War, under President Buchanan,
10. ular conscious of his extreme guilt, did not dare to surrender but escaped during the night before the surrender.
The capture of IIenry and Donelson, were important and substantial successes, both as it respects the men and material of war taken, and positious secured. They inspired the drooping spirits of the people. These brilliant successes, accomplished over physical obstacles, far greater than any which would have impeded the march of the army of the Potomac, induced comparisons between the Western officers and those of the East.
The successes of Thomas, Foote, and Grant, compelled the evacuation of Kentucky by the rebels, and opened Tennessee to the Union forces. Columbus was necessarily evacuated by the insurgents.
The fall of Fort Donelson was followed by the immediate evacuation of Bowling Green, by the rebels. General Mitchell, of General Buell's army, by a forced march, reached that place on the 15th of February. An extract from the address which he issued to his soldiers, will illustrate the resolution, vigor, activity and heroism of the Western soldiers in their winter campaigns in the Valley of the Mississippi, and cannot but force a contrast with the continued idleness, (excused by McClellan, on account of bad roads,) of the brave army of the Potomac:
“Soldiers of the Third Division ! You have executed a march of forty miles in twenty-eight hours and a half. The fallen timber and other obstructions, opposed by the enemy to your movements, have been swept from your path. The fire of your artillery and the bursting of your shells announced your arrival. Surprised, and ignorant of the force that had thus precipitated itself upon them, they fled in consternation.
“ In the night-time, over a frozen, rocky, precipitous pathway, down rude steps for fifty feet, you have passed the advanced guard, cavalry and infantry, and before the dawn of day, you have entered in triumph a position of extraordinary strength, which by your enemy, was proudly denominated the Gibralter of Kentucky.
“With your own hands, through deep mud and in drenching rains, and up rocky pathways next to impassable, and across a footpath of your own constructing, built upon the ruins of the railway bridge, destroyed for their
NASHVILLE OCCUPIED BY UNION TROOPS.
protection, by a retreating and panic stricken foe, you have transported upon your own shoulders, your luggage and camp equipage."
On the 24th of February, the Union troops, without opposition, took possession of Nashville, the Capital of the great State of Tennessee. With the Capital, there fell into the hands of the Union troops, an immense amount of stores and provisions.
On the 12th of March, Senator Andrew Johnson, having been appointed provisional Governor of Tennessee, arrived at Nashville, and entered upon his duties.
It will be remembered that the Union sentiment in Tennessee, was always strong. In the mountains of East Tennessee, there were few slaves, and loyalty to the Union was general, and fidelity strong. The Union soldiers were received with acclamations of joy and gratitude
On the 8th of February, Roanoke Island, on the coast of North Carolina, with all its defences, was captured by an expedition under command of General Burnside, and Admiral Goldsborough; 2,000 prisoners, 40 guns, and 3,000 small arms were the results of this victory.
On the 14th of March, General Burnside captured Newbern, with 46 heavy guns, and a large amount of stores.
On the 11th of April General David Hunter captured Fort Pulaski with 47 guns, and a large quantity of military stores.
On the 25th of April, the army and the naval forces captured Fort Macon, which commanded Beaufort Harbor, with the fort, the army capturing four hundred prisoners.
One of the most important results of these captures, was depriving the rebels of a large number of negroes, who everywhere, whenever the Union flag made its appearance, flocked to it, as the slave flees from bondage to liberty.
On the 6th, 7th and 8th of March, was fought the battle of Pea Ridge, in Arkansas, Generals Curtis and Sigel, commanding
Curtis and Sigel having driven Price out of Missouri, and pursued him into Arkansas, General Halleck, with some exultation, on the 18th of February, telegraphed to Secretary Stanton, “that the Union flag is floating in Arkansas.”