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CHAPTER XIV.

MILITARY OPERATIONS OF 1862.

INACTIVITY OF MCCLELLAN-PRESIDENT'S ORDER FOR A GENERAL

ADVANCE — ACTIVE OPERATIONS IN THE WEST - · BATTLE OF MIDDLE CREEK, MILL SPRING-CAPTURE OF FORTS HENRY AND DONELSON — MITCHELL'S MARCH TO BOWLING GREEN — UNION TROOPS OCCUPY NASHVILLE-CAPTURE OF ROANOKE ISLAND AND NEWBERN— PEA RIDGE- NEW MADRID- ISLAND NUMBER TEN -SAILOH —CORINTHCAPTURE OF NEW ORLEANS.

In order that a consecutive narration of the series of meas

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ures adopted by Congress and the Executive, upon the all-important question of slavery, might be given, down to the period of emancipation, military movements in their chronological order have been omitted. We now return to take up the history of these events, which, though more attractive perhaps to the general reader, are less important than a clear and accurate understanding of the progress of ideas and their embodiment in the forms of law.

It was not until late in 1861, that the country fully appreciated, or was at all prepared for the stupendous war impending

The work of 1861 was that of preparation. By the 1st of December, the whole number of men mustered into the army had reached nearly or quite 640,000.* The leading features of the plan of the war seemed to be — First, To blockade the entire coast of the insurgent States. Second, The military occupation of the border slave States. Third, The recovery of the Mississippi River to the Gulf, by which the Confederacy would be divided, and the great outlet of the Northwest be secured. Fourth, The destruction of the rebel army in Virginia, and the conquest of Richmond, the rebel Capital. To accomplish these great purposes, and to

* Report of the Secretary of War, December, 1861.

This army

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 Ilalleck, 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. "The Army of the Potomac. "The Army of Western Virginia. “The Army near Mumfordsville, Kentucky. “The Army and Flotilla at Cairo.

" 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.

“ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

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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 t’ie 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 Humphrey 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.

cause,

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 IIenry, 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 arinistice for the purpose of settling terms of surrender. General Grant replied: “No terms except unconditional and immediate 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 10, ular name of unconditional surrender Grant."

This magnificent success, electrified the country, and Mr. 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,

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 positions 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 surcesses 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 fed 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

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