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THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN.
March, instant, and the General-in-chief shall be responsible that it moves as early as that day.
"ORDERED, That the Army and Navy coöperate in an immediate effort to capture the enemy's batteries upon the Potomac between Washington and the Chesapeake Bay.
“A BRAHAM LINCOLN. “L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General."
Finally—after delays manifold, correspondence voluminous, discussions heated, and patience nearly worn threadbarecommenced that military movement, wbich has passed into history as the American Peninsular Campaign ; by virtue of which, commencing about the middle of March, 1862, a large body of finely disciplined troops-their numbers varying, according to various accounts, from one hundred thousand nine hundred and seventy, to one hundred and twenty-one thousand five hundred men-left Alexandria for Richmond, via Yorktown, and succeeded, after sanguinary battles. swamp sickness, severe exposures, and terrible hardships, in returning (how many of them ?) to Alexandria via Harrison's Landing, by about the middle of August, 1862.
That campaign was the most disastrous drawback of the war, not merely in the loss of men, nor in the failure to reach the end aimed at, but mainly in its enervating effect upon the supporters of the Government. It was Bull Run over again, only immensely magnified, indefinitely prolonged. Fortune seemed determined never to favor our Eastern braves.
Into the details of that campaign it is needless to enter here. Every schoolboy knows them by heart, so far as they are spread upon the record. Equally idle is it to attempt a criticism upon the campaign in a military point of view That bas been already done to a nauseating extent; yet will, doubtless, continue to be done while the reader lives.
No details, nor military criticism therefore here. But that President Lincoln may fairly be presented in his relations to
he should succeed, owing to a fear that he might prove a formidable competitor at the next Presidential election. Peculiarly unfortunate, when one remembers that this President had, at the outbreak of the war, put at the head of three important military departments three of the most decided of his political opponents—Patterson, Butler, and McClellanthat no man ever occupied the Presidential chair, unless it be its first occupant, who bad less selfishness and more disinterestedness in his composition than President Lincolo.
It was unfortunate for him that such desperate efforts were made by his supporters to fasten the responsibility for admitted failures upon other parties. This began at Ball's Bluff, as bas already been noted. The Secretary of War was dragged in, as well as the President, in connection with the Peninsular Campaign. As to this last, nothing more to the point can be adduced than the words of a man, whose honesty and truthfulness were known wherever he was knownAbraham Lincoln-in a characteristic speech made by him at a Union meeting in Washington, August 6th, 1862, when the issue of the campaign was certain :
“FELLOW-CITIZENS :- I believe there is no precedent for my appearing before you on this occasion ; but it is also true that there is no precedent for your being here yourselves, and I offer, in justification of myself and of you, that, upon examination, I have found nothing in the Constitution against it. I, however, have an impression that there are younger gentlemen who will entertain you better, and better address your understanding than I will or could, and therefore I propose but to detain you a moment longer.
“ I am very little inclined on any occasion to say any unless I hope to produce some good by it. The only thing I think of just now not likely to be better said by some one else is a matter in which we have heard some other persons blamed for what I did myself. There has been a very widespread attempt to have a quarrel between General McCleliau
LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
The Secretary of War.
and the Secretary of War. Now, I occupy a position that enables me to observe, that at least these two gentlemen are not nearly so deep in the quarrel as some pretending to be their friends. General McClellan's attitude is such that, in the very selfishness of his nature, he cannot but wish to be successful, and I hope he will—and the Secretary of War is in precisely the same situation. If the military commanders in the field cannot be successful, not only the Secretary of War, but myself, for the time being the master of them both, can not be but failures. I know that General McClellan wishes to be successful, and I know he does not wish it any more than the Secretary of War for him, and both of them together no more than I wish it. Sometimes we have a dispute about how many men General McClellan has had, and those who would disparage him say that he has had a very large num. ber, and those who would disparage the Secretary of War insist that General McClellan has had a very small number. The basis for this is, there is always a wide difference, and on tbis occasion perhaps a wider one, between the grand total on McClellan's rolls and the men actually fit for duty; and those who would disparage bim talk of the grand total on paper, and those who would disparage the Secretary of War talk of those at present fit for duty. General McClellan bas sometimes asked for things that the Secretary of War did not give him. General McClellan is not to blame for asking what he wanted and needed, and the Secretary of War is not to blame for not giving when he had none to give. And I say here, as far as I know, the Secretary of War has withbeld no one thing at any time in my power to give him. I have no accusation against him. I believe he is a brave and able man, and I stand here, as justice requires me to do, to take upon myself wbat has been charged on the Secretary of War, as withholding from him. I have talked longer than I expected to, and now I avail myself of my privilege of saying no more."
THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN,
After the Campaign.
Affairs at the West
It was unfortunate for him that the precedents were so numerous in American history for making a successful military man President. This must have embarrassed him no little, and tempted him into much of that correspondence which otherwise he would have avoided. Had it not been for these fatal precedents, he, assuredly, would not have leisurely seated himself at Harrison's Landing to write to the President a lengthy homily on affairs of State at a moment when it was doubtful whether he would long have an army of which he could be General in command.
Finally, it was unfortunate for him that he had not, when learning to command, learned also to obey. This would have spared himself and the country and the cause several entirely superfluous inflictions.
Whoever would form a correct estimate of President Lincoln's connection with the Peninsular campaign and its commander, must bear these facts in mind. Aside from all considerations of a purely military nature, they are indispensable in reaching an unbiassed decision.
What dogged the heels of this unfortunate campaign must be briefly told. Vigorous orders from Pope, "headquarters in the saddle," turned into most melancholy bombast by bis failure, occasioned either by want of brains or willful lack of coöperation; a rebel invasion of Maryland; the battle of South Mountain gained under McClellan ; Antietam, not the victory it might have been, for which a ream of reasons were given ; the withdrawal of the rebels ; Government hard at work urging McClellan to follow ; supersedure of the latter by the President, who survived his cabinet in clinging to him; appointment of Burnside, much against his wishes; another defeat at Fredericksburg; and the Army of the Potomac in winter-quarters again.
Such is the summary in the East for A. D. 1862.
In the West, the year closed with the opening of the battle of Murfreesboro, and Vicksburg still held out against all our attempts to take it.