Page images

rupture of a financial system in the North; and that it had no other resource of hope but in the stern and bloody trials of the battle-field.

Beyond the events briefly sketched in this and the foregoing chapters, there were some incidents which were interesting as episodes in the progress of the war, up to the close of the year 1861, to which a full reference has been impossible in a work which professes to treat only the material parts of the important campaigns of the year.

The most interesting of these was probably the attack on Santa Rosa Island, in the harbor of Pensacola, on the night of the 8th October, and the storming, by picked companies from the Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida regiments, of the camp which had been made on the island by the notorious Billy Wilson Zouaves. Landing from steamers and flats on the enemy's shore, within sight of his feet, the small band of Confederates marched some three or four miles in the darkness of the night over an unknown and almost impassable ground, killing the enemy's pickets, storming his intrenched camp, driving off the notorious regiment of New York bullies, with their colonel flying at their head, and burning every vestige of their clothing, equipage, and provisions. This action was rendered remarkable by an instance of disgusting brutality on the part of the enemy--the murder of our wounded who had been left on the field on account of the necessity of rapidly retiring with our small force, before the enemy could rally from his surprise. Of thirteen dead bodies recovered, eleven were shot through the head, having, at the same time, disabling wounds on the body. This fact admits of but one inference.

The affair of Dranesville, on the line of the Potomac, had given a sharp and unexpected lesson to our immoderate confidence. This action occurred on the 22d day of December. Our whole force engaged was nearly 2,500 men, composed of Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Alabama troops, under command of Gen. Stuart. The expedition, which was attended by a train of wagons intended for foraging purposes, fell in with the enemy near Dranesville. On the appearance of the enemy, the 11th Virginia regiment charged them with a yell, and drove them back to their lines within sight of Dranes

" The

66 For

ville. Here the enemy rallied. In the confusion which ensued the 1st Kentucky regiment fired upon the South Carolina troops, mistaking them for the enemy. Discovering his mistake, Colonel Taylor, of the 1st Kentucky, moved cautiously through the woods. Coming in sight of another regiment, and prompted to unusual caution by his previous mistake, he shouted to their commander to know who he was. colonel of the 9th,” was the reply. “Of what 9th ?” “Don't shoot," said the Yankees; “we are friends--South Carolinians.” “On which side are you?” asked Col. Taylor. the Union," now shouted the Federals; at the same instant pouring a murderous volley into the ranks of the Kentuckians. The engagement now became general. The Federals had the advantage of position and largely superior numbers. Their field batteries swept our lines, and several regiments of their infantry, protected by the ground, had advanced within one hundred yards of us, keeping the air full of minié-balls. After sustaining the fire for some time, our troops were compelled to fall back. The retreat was executed in good order, as the enemy did not attempt any pursuit. Our loss on the field from which we were repulsed was about two hundred in killed and wounded. The next day, reinforcements having reached Gen. Stuart, the enemy had drawn off from the locality of the battle-field, and declined any further engagement.

The affair at Dranesville was no serious disaster, but it was a significant warning, and, in this respect, it had an importance beyond the size of the engagement and its immediate results. The Yankees were learning to stand fire, and, out of the material which was raw at Bull Run, McClellan was making troops who were no longer contemptible, and who were perceptibly improving in discipline, stanchness, and soldierly qualities.

Of the political measures adopted by the South in further ance of the objects of the war, but a few words need be said. They are justly described as weak and halting responses to the really vigorous acts of the Northern government in its heart less, but strong and effective prosecution of the war. While the Washington government protected itself against disaffected persons and spies by a system of military police, extending over the whole North, the Provisional Congress, at Richmond, was satisfied to pass a law for the deportation of “alien enemies," the execution of which afforded facilities to the egress of innumerable spies. The Washington government had passed a law for the contiscation of the property of “rebels. The Congress at Richmond replied, after a weak hesitation, by a law sequestrating the property of alien enemies in the South, the operations of which could never have been intended to have effect; for, by future amendments in the same Congress, the law was soon emasculated into a broad farce. The Wash ington government was actually collecting an army of half a million of men. The Richmond Congress replied to the threat of numbers, by increasing its arıny, on paper, to four hundred thousand men ; and the Confederate government, in the midst of a revolution that threatened its existence, continued to rely on the wretched shift of twelve months' volunteers and raw militia, with a population that, by the operation of conscription, could have been embodied and drilled into an invincible army, competent not only to oppose invasion at every point of our frontier, but to conquer peace in the dominions of the enemy.

The universal mind and energy of the North had been consolidated in its war upon the South. The patriotism of the nation was broadly invoked; no clique arrogated and monopolized the control of affairs; no favorites closed up against the million outside the avenues of patronage, of honor, and of promtion. It was a remarkable circumstance that the North had, at all stages of the war, adopted the best means for securing specific results. The popularity of Fremont, with the half million “ Wide Awakes" of the North, was used to bring an army into the field. The great ship-broker of New York, Morgan, and the great ship-owner, Vanderbilt, were patronized in create a navy. In the army, the popularity of Banks, Butler, Grant, and Baker were einployed equally with the science of McClellan, Buell, and Halleck.* It had been thus that the

* The two most conspicuous Federal generals in the operations of the West were Generals Buell and Halleck. Don Carlos Buell was a native of Ohio. He had served in the Mexican war with distinction, having been twice bre vetted for gallant conduct--the last time as major in the battle of Churubusco, in which he was severely wounded. At the close of the Mexican war, be wus appointed assistant adjutant-general, with rank of captain, but relinquished his rank in line in 1851. As a commander, he was courageous, energetic, and methodical, and he obtained the respect of the South for his chivalric disposition, his courteous behavior to prisoners, and his uniform recognition of the laws and amenities of civilized warfare.

[ocr errors]

Federal government had united the whole North , brought ar army of half a million men into the field, and swelled the proportions of the war far beyond any expectations of the world.

The policy of monotonous defence had been perseveringly pursued by the authorities of the Confederacy. On the side of the enemy, it had more than repaired the damage inflicted upon them in many brilliant battles, and had left them at perfect leisure, in the very presence of our forces, to devise, mature, and make trial of any plan of campaign or assault which they thought expedient. A large portion of Virginia and important regions on the Southern seaboards were now occupied by the enemy, who would never have ventured forth to such distances, if they had been menaced nearer home. The strictly defensive policy was sustained by elaborate arguments. It ie not within the design of our work to canvass the logical value of these arguments; but it is to recognize as a fact the uatural and almost universal impression made upon the popular mind of the South, that it could not be good generalship which left the enemy at perfect leisure to mature all his preparations for aggression; and that it could not be a glorious system of warfare, which never ventured an aggressive movement, and which decimated its armies by inaction.

Gen, Henry Wager Halleck, before the war, had been but little known, and that only as the author of some military works, and a prominent land lawyer, deeply versed in Mexican titles, at the bar of San Francisco, California. He was a pupil of West Point, and had been brevetted captain for meritorious services in California during the Mexican war. He was appointed Secretary of State of the province of California in the military government of Generals Kearney, Mason, and Riley, and was a member of the Convention to form and one of the committee to draft the State Constitution of California in 1849. He subsequently disappeared from public attention, and occupied himself with his innumerable Mexican clients in California as a lawyer and land speculator.

A correspondent gives the following account of the personnel of General Halleck : “In the field he is hardly the same person who might have been seen quietly gliding from the Planters' House to head-quarters in St. Louis He does not look a whit more military in appearance, but looks, in his new and rich, though plain uniform, as if he were in borrowed clothes. In truth, he bears a most striking resemblance to some oleaginous Methodist parson dressed in regimentals, with a wide, stiff-rimmed black felt hat sticking on the back of his head, at an acute angle with the ground. His demeanor in front of his tent is very simple and business-like. When on horseback, his Wesleyan character is more and more prominent. He neither looks like a soldier, rides like one, nor does he carry the state of a major-general in the field, but is the impersonation of the man of peace. His face is large, tabular and Teutonic; his eyes a kind of indistinct gray, not without expression, but of that deep welling kind that only reveal the emotion without indicating ite character."

In the administration of the civil polity of the Southern army, as distinguished from its command, there were abuses and defects which were constant subjects of newspaper com. ment.

In the Quarter-master's department, however, the results ar. complished by the energy of its directors were little less than surprising, and received the marked commendation of a committee of the Provisional Congress, appointed to inquire into the civil polity of the army. That the immense army now in the service of the Confederate States, suddenly collected, men and officers generally inexperienced in camp life and military duty, should be clothed, armed, and moved with the facility of a permanent organization, was not to be expected; and yet. with but few exceptions, this result was accomplished. Major Alfred M. Barbour, of Virginia, was appointed Chief Qua. ter

master of the army of the Potomac, our principal corps d'armée in the field ; and his remarkable resonrces of judgment, liis vast energy, and his untiring devotion to his extensive dui. ties in the field, contributed most important results in the emergencies of the many sudden and rapid movements of our forces in Virginia, in the remarkable campaign in that State of the spring of 1862. Such contributions to the public service are not to be depreciated by the side of more visible, and, in the popular mind, more brilliant achievements of the war. The labors of the Quarter-master's department penetrate the entire military establishment, breathe life into the army, nurture its growth, and give it strength and efficiency in the field; vigilant, prepared, and present, it moves unnoticed amid the stirring events of the field, and obscured by the dust and smoke of the combat, it remains unobserved even while collecting the tiruits of victory

The most distressing abuses were visible in the ill-regulated

« PreviousContinue »