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MILITARY OPERATIONS IN THE WEST AND SOUTH, AND THE
GENERAL CONDUCT OF THE ADMINISTRATION IN 1862.
In every other section of the country, except in Eastern Virginia, the military operations of the year 1862 were marked by promptitude and vigor, and attended by success to the National arms. Early in February a lodgment had been offected by the expedition under General Burnside on the coast of North Carolina, and on the 19th of January the victory of Mill Springs had released Western Kentucky from rebel rule, and opened a path for the armies of the Union into East Tennessee. The President's order of January 27th, for an advance of all the forces of the Government on the 22d of February, had been promptly followed by the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson on the Cumberland River, which led to the evacuation of Bowling Green, the surrender of Nashville, and the fall of Columbus, the rebel stronghold on the Mississippi. Fort Pulaski, which guarded the entrance to Savannah, was taken, after eighteen hours bombardment, on the 12th of April, and the whole west coast of Florida had been occupied by our forces. By the skilful strategy of General Halleck, commanding the Western Department, seconded by the vigorous activity of General Curtis, the rebel commander in Missouri, General Price, had been forced to retreat, leaving the whole of that State in our hands; and he was badly beaten in a subsequent engagement at Sugar Creek in Arkansas. On the 11th, Island No. 10, commanding the passage of the Mississippi, was taken by General Pope, and on the 4th of June Forts Pillow and Randolph, still lower down, were occupied by our forces. On the 6th the city of Memphis was surrendered by the rebels. Soon after the fall of Nashville a formidable expedition had ascended the Tennessee River, and being joined by all the available Union forces in that vicinity, the whole under command of General Halleck, prepared to give battle to the rebel army which, swelled by large re-enforcements from every quarter, was posted in the vicinity of Corinth, ninety miles east of Memphis, intending by a sudden attack to break the force of the Union army, which was sweeping steadily down upon them from the field of its recent conquests. The rebels opened the attack with great fury and effect on the morning of the 6th of April, at Pittsburg Landing, three miles in advance of Corinth. The fight lasted nearly all day, the rebels having decidedly the advantage; but in their final onset they were driven back, and the next day our army, strengthened by the opportune arrival of General Buell, completed what proved to be a signal and most important victory. When news of it reached Washington President Lincoln issued the following proclamation:
It has pleased Almighty God to vouchsafe signal victories to the land and naval forces engaged in suppressing an internal rebellion, and at the same time to avert from our country the dangers of foreign intervention and invasion.
It is therefore recommended to the people of the United States, that at their next weekly assemblages in their accustomed places of public worship, which shall occur after the notice of this Proclamation shall have been received, they especially acknowledge and render thanks to our Heavenly Father for these inestimable blessings; that they then and there implore spiritual consolation in behalf of all those who have been brought into affliction by the casualties and calamities of sedition and civil war; and that they reverently invoke the Divine guidance for our national counsels, to the end that they may speedily result in the restoration of peace, harmony, and unity throughout our borders, and hasten the establishment of fraternal relations among all the countries of the earth.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this tenth day of April, in the year of [L. 8.] our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-sixth.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President:
WM. H. SEWARD, Sccretary of State.
On the 28th of May the rebels evacuated Corinth, and were pushed southward by our pursuing forces for some twenty-five or thirty miles. General Mitchell, by a daring and most gallant enterprise in the latter part of April, took possession of Huntsville in Alabama. In February a formidable naval expedition had been fitted out under Commodore Farragut for the capture of New Orleans; and on the 18th of April the attack commenced upon Forts Jackson and St. Philip, by which the passage of the Mississippi below the city is guarded. After six days' bombardment the whole fleet passed the forts on the night of the 23d, under a terrible fire from both; and on the 25th the rebel General Lovell, who had command of the military defences of the city, withdrew, and Commodore Farragut took possession of the town, which he retained until the arrival of General Butler on the 1st of May, who thereupon entered
upon the discharge of his duties as commander of that Department.
During the summer a powerful rebel army, under General Bragg, invaded Kentucky for the double purpose of obtaining supplies and affording a rallying point for what they believed to be the secession sentiment of the State. In the accomplishment of the former object they were successful, but not in the latter. They lost more while in the State from desertions than they gained by recruits; and after a battle at Perryville on the 7th of October they began their retreat. On the 5th of October a severe battle was fought at Corinth, from which a powerful rebel army attempted to drive our troops under General Rosecrans, but they were repulsed with very heavy losses, and the campaign in Kentucky and Tennessee was virtually at an end. A final effort of the enemy in that region led to a severe engagement at Murfreesborough on the 31st of December, which resulted in the defeat of the rebel forces, and in relieving Tennessee from the presence of the rebel armies.
In all the military operations of this year especial care had been taken by the Generals in command of the several Departments, acting under the general direction of the Government, to cause it to be distinctly understood that the object of the war was the preservation of the Union and the restoration of the authority of the Constitution. The rebel authorities, both civil and military, lost no opportunity of exciting the fears and resentments of the people of the Southern States, by ascribing to the National Government designs of the most ruthless and implacable hostility to their institutions and their persons. It was strenuously represented that the object of the war was to rob the Southern people of their rights and their property, and especially to set free their slaves. The Government did every thing in its power to allay the apprehensions and hostilities which these statements were calculated to produce. General Garfield, while in Kentucky, just before the victory of Mill Springs, issued on the 16th of January an address to the citizens of that section of the State, exhorting them to return to their allegiance to the Federal Government, which had never made itself injuriously felt by any one among them, and promising them full protection for their persons and their property, and full reparation for any wrongs they might have sustained. After the battle of Mill Springs the Secretary of War, under the direction of the President, issued an order of thanks to the soldiers engaged in it, in which he again announced that the “purpose of the war was to attack, pursue
and destroy a rebellious enemy, and to deliver the country from danger menaced by traitors.” On the 20th of November, 1861, General Halleck, commanding the Department of the Missouri, on the eve of the advance into Tennessee, issued an order enjoining upon the troops the necessity of discipline and of order, and calling on them to prove by their acts that they came “ to restore, not to violate the Constitution and the laws," and that the people of the South, under the flag of the Union, should “enjoy the same protection of life and property as in former days.” “It does not belong to the military,” said this order, “to decide upon the relation of master and slave. Such questions must be settled by the civil courts. No fugitive slave will, therefore, be admitted within our lines or camps except when specially ordered by the General command
So also General Burnside, when about to land on the soil of North Carolina, issued an order, February 31, 1262, calling upon the soldiers of his army to remember that they were there “to support the Constitution and the laws, to put down rebellion, and to protect the persons and property of the loyal and peaceable citizens of the State.” And on the 18th of
* In regard to this order, which was afterwards severely criticised in Congress, General Halleck wrote the following letter of explanation:
HEAD-QUARTER. DIE ABecember 5, 1861. ISSOURI
Louis, December 8 MY DEAR COLONEL: Yours of the 4th instant is just received. Or. der No. 3 was, in my mind, clearly a military necessity. Unauthorized persons, black or white, free or slaves, must be kept out of our camps, unless we are willing to publish to the enemy every thing we do, or in. tend to do. It was a military, and not a political order.
I am ready to carry out any lawful instructions in regard to fugitive slaves, which my superiors may give me, and to enforce any law which Congress may pass. But I cannot make law, and will not violate it. You know my private opinion on the policy of confiscating the slave property of the rebels in arms. If Congress shall pass it, you may be certain that I shall enforco it. Perhaps my policy as to the treatment of rebels and their property is as well set out in Order No. 13, issued the day your letter was written, as I could now describe it.
Hon. F. F. BLAIR, Washington.