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With General McClellan's motives, the writer has no desire to deal. That he became the favorite of men whose heart was not in the war, may well be considered his misfortune. That he became the representative of the party opposed to the administration in its general policy, on all subjects, was not inconsistent with his desire anl determination to do his whole military duty. That he entertained and acted upon the determination to injure the administration for political purposes, there is very little evidence; and there is absolutely no evidence that the administration, through any jealousy of him, withheld its support from him, that he might be ruined and put out of its way. Such a supposition cannot live a moment in the light of Mr. Lincoln's life. If there is one fact in McClellan's campaign that stands out with peculiar prominence, it is that both Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Stanton sent him every man they could spare, consistently with the safety of the capital, by the General's own showing at first, and by the showing of events at last. On one side, we see the presumptuous volunteering of general political and military advice, the unreasonable call for reinforcements when assured again and again that he had every man that could be given him, expostulations against government orders, quarreling with government arrangements, absolute criminations of the government, unaccountable hesitations and boyish inefficiency; while, on the other, there were almost unbroken respectfulness, patience and toleration, ardent desire for the best results, constant urgency to action, constant sacrifice of personal feeling and opinion, and a patent wish to do everything practicable or possible to give the commanding General everything he wanted.
That General McClellan loved power, is evident; and it is just as evident that it was not pleasant to him to share it with any one; but, on the whole, there is no evidence that he was not a good, well-meaning, and patriotic man. The difficulty was that he was great mainly in his infirmities. He was not a great man, nor a great general. He was a good organizer of military force, and a good engineer; he was a good theorizer, and wrote good English; he had that quality of personal magnetism which drew the hearts of his soldiers to him; but he was not a man of action, of expedients, of quick judgment, of dash and daring, of great, heroic deeds. He was never ready. There were many evidences that he held a theory of his own as to the mode of conducting the war, and that, independently of the government, he endeavored to pursue it; but, even if he did, his failure must always be regarded as mainly due to constitutional peculiarities for which he was not responsible.
This chapter should be concluded here, but space must be taken for a very brief record of the immediately succeeding fortunes of the army of the Potomac, and a hurried chronicle of the other military events of the year. On the retirement of General McClellan, General Burnside was placed in command of the army of the Potomac; and, at the same time, the rebel army commenced falling back upon Richmond. On the fourteenth, the army left its camps, and marched for Fredericksburg, arriving there at about the same time with the rebel army.
Burnside was obliged to wait for his pontoons, and is was not until the twelfth of December that he was ready to cross. Only a feeble resistance was made to his passage, but it was a worse than fruitless procedure. The attempt to carry the hills was a failure, and he was obliged to withdraw his army, with a loss of from ten thousand to twelve thousand men. This gave a sad finishing up to the year's sad business, with this ill-starred army.
The opening of the campaign of 1862 found the government with a newly created navy at its command. Mr. Welles, though reputed inefficient, had accomplished what no other man had ever done in an equal space of time. Not only were the southern ports efficiently blockaded, but materials for formidable naval expeditions were prepared. General Burnside, at the head of an expedition, captured Roanoke Island on the eighth of February, with three thousand prisoners; and subsequently engaged in other successful movements on the coast and up the rivers of North Carolina. On the nineteenth of
June, Ch urleston was attacked, without success. In the latter part of April, Forts Jackson and St. Philip, below New Orleans, were assalled by the feet under Commodore Farragut, and so far disalbed that they were passed.
As a consequence, New Orleans fell into our hands, all the rebel troops fleeing the city. This affair was equally brilliant in its execution and important in its results, and encouraged the government as much as it distressed and discouraged its foes. Fort Pulaski, guarding the entrance to Savannah, was also taken, and that port effectually shut up.
While these much desired, though hardly expected, successes attended the operations at the mouth of the Mississippi, events of equal importance were in progress on its tributaries. At the West movements were on a gigantic scale. The capture of Forts Henry and Donelson on the Cumberland River drew the enemy out of Bowling Green and Nashville, and gave us Columbus. General Price was driven out of Missouri. Island Number Ten and Forts Pillow and Randolph all fe'l into our hands, and then our forces occupied Memphis. A combination of all the rebel armies at Corinth surprised our troops at Pittsburg Landing, under General Grant, on the morning of April sixth, with overwhelming numbers, and drove them back to the protection of our gunboats; but on the following day, through the opportune arrival of General Buell, with his forces, the rebels were pushed back into retreat, with terrible losses, leaving our victorious army almost as badly punished as themselves. The victory was so decided that Mr. Lincoln was moved to issue a Proclamation of Thanksgiving, in which he also recognized the other victories that have been chronicled. The people were called upon to "render thanks to our Heavenly Father for these inestimable blessings,” and were also desired to “implore spiritual consolation in behalf of all those who have been brought into affliction by the casualties and calamities of civil war."
The rebels fell back to Corinth, and, remaining there a few days, retired to Grenada. A powerful effort of General Bragg to invade Kentucky, made later in the season, for the purpose mainly of gathering reinforcements, encouraging the secession spirit, and collecting supplies, was a failure, in nearly every point; and, after a battle at Terryville, he retreated. General Rosecrans was attacked at Corinth by a powerful confederate force, but he repulsed the rebels with great loss. At the very last of the year, there was a severe fight at Murfreesboro which resulted favorably to our arms; and the new year of 1863 found a great advance made toward the entire redemption of Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, from the presence of rebel armies and the prevalence of rebel influence.
WAILE these operations, pursued upon a most gigantic scale, for crushing the rebellion and defending the national existence were in progress, Mr. Lincoln was taking every opportunity, personally and through his generals, to assure the people of the South that he meant them no ill. No father ever dealt more considerately and carefully with erring children than he did with those who had determined to break
up the government. On the twenty-fifth of July, he issued a proclamation, in pursuance of a section in the confiscation act, passed by Congress a few days previously, warning all persons to cease participating in the rebellion, and adjuring them to return to their allegiance to the government, on pain of the forfeitures and seizures provided by the act.
There had been men—and there continued to be throughout the war—who believed, or pretended to believe, that peace and Union could be won without war—that friendly negotiation would settle everything. There never was any basis for these fancies, except in rebel desires to embarrass the government, or in party policy among those opposed to the administration, or in the hearts of simple men who believed that reason and common sense had a place in the counsels of the rebel leaders. From the beginning of the rebellion to the end, there was not a time in which peace could have been procured, short of an acknowledgment of the independence of the confederate rebel states, as events have proved. Mr. Lincoln understood this, and understood better than the