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In the month of August, Munson’s Hill, within view of the capitol, was occupied by the rebel forces; and, though they were not strong in numbers, and took but limited pains to intrench themselves, they remained there undisturbed until nearly the last of September, when they left of their own accord. On the twenty-first of October, there occurred a disas trous battle and blunder at Ball's Bluff. It was a sad failure to fulfill the promise of a magnificent preparation for action. The country was disappointed and indignant. The number killed, drowned, wounded and captured was eleven hundredfull half that went into the action. Here Colonel Baker, the President's friend, fell; and, although General McClellan, in his report of the affair, said that, “situated as their troops were-cut off alike from retreat or reinforcements—five thousand against one thousand seven hundred—it was not possible that the issue could have been successful,” the unmilitary mind will still inquire why, with an immense army but a few miles away, they were left or placed where reinforcement and re treat were alike impossible?
General Scott did not like the looks or management of military affairs, and felt that his place was becoming unpleas ant. Only a few days after the affair at Ball's Bluff, he made known to Mr. Lincoln his desire to be released from all active duties, in consequence of his increasing physical infirmity. In a letter dated November first, the President acceded to his request, and added: “The American people will hear with sadness and deep emotion that General Scott has withdrawn from the active control of the army, while the President and the unanimous Cabinet express their own and the nation's sympathy in his personal affliction, and their profound sense of the important public services rendered by him to his country, during his long and brilliant public career, among which will ever be gratefully distinguished his faithful devotion to the Constitution, the Union and the flag, when assailed by parricidal rebellion.” To do all possible honor to the noble veteran who had stood by the country when so many army officers had gone over to the rebellion under the appeal of sectional friend
ship—an appeal made to him with all the persuasions that ingenuity could devise—the President and his entire Cabinet waited upon him at his residence; and there, with his Secretaries around him, Mr. Lincoln read to him his letter. It was a grand moment in the old man's life. “This honor overwhelms me,” he responded. “It overpays all services I have attempted to render to my country. If I had any claims before, they are all obliterated by this expression of approval by the President, with the unaniinous support of the Cabinet. I know the President and this Cabinet well-I know that the country has placed its interests in this trying crisis in safe keeping. Their councils are wise; their labors are untiring as they are loyal, and their course is the right one.”
Thus, after fifty-three years of service in the armies of his country, General Scott went into his nobly earned retirement, with the blessing of his government and the blessing of his country upon his venerable head; and it is one of the sweetest satisfactions of both to remember that he lived to see his country's enemies vanquished, and to hear of those who taunted him with faithlessness to his sectional friends, humbly seeking pardon of the government which they had outraged, and which he had so loyally supported.
On General Scott's retirement, General McClellan held the highest rank in the army, and was intrusted with the chief command.
During the month of November, the Union forces achieved several important and encouraging successes. South Carolina was invaded by an expedition under the joint command of General T. W. Sherman and Commodore Dupont, the latter of whom achieved a brilliant naval victory in Port Royal Harbor. Generals Grant and McClernand, with a force of three thousand five hundred men, attacked a rebel camp in Missouri under General Polk, captured twelve guns, burned their camp, and took baggage, horses and many prisoners. The rebels were afterwards reinforced, and compelled the Union forces to return to their transports. Notwithstanding the fact that the rebels claimed a victory, the results were
substantially with their assailants. General Buckner, with whom McClellan was alleged to have made his treaty of neutrality, had thrown off his neutral mask, and was gathering an army of rebels in Kentucky, co-operating with General Bragg who was invading the state with the determination to force it into secession. To meet and repel this invasion, General W. T. Sherman advanced with a large force to Bowling Green, while General Nelson, on his left, gained a decisive victory over the rebels under Colonel Williams. The various operations of the Union forces broke up the rebel project of subjugation, and re-invigorated the efforts of the Union men to hold the state to its loyalty. General Halleck was appointed to the command of the army of the West, and General Buell took General W. T. Sherman's command in Kentucky.
The question of slavery was an ever-present one during all the operations of the year. The instructions given by the War Department to General Butler on the eighth of August, were based upon “the desire of the President that all existing rights in all the states should be respected and maintained ;' yet it was declared that “the rights dependent on the laws of the states within which military operations are conducted must necessarily be subordinate to the military exigencies created by the insurrection, if not wholly forfeited by the treasonable conduct of the parties claiming them.” The difficulty of settling the claims of loyal masters was such that it was recommended to receive all fugitives, keep a record of them, and set them to work. Congress, the Secretary of War believed, would provide for the repayment of loyal masters. On the departure of General T. W. Sherman on his expedition to Port Royal, Mr. Cameron referred him to the letter to General Butler on this subject. He was directed to receive the services of any persons, whether fugitives from labor or not, who should offer them to the national government. These fugitives might be organized into “squads, companies, or otherwise,” though that liberty was not intended to mean a general arming of them for military service. Loyal masters were
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to be assured, meantime, that Congress would provide for thein a just compensation for services thus lost to them. The time for emancipation had not come, in the opinion of the government. That Mr. Lincoln desired it, none can doubt; but he had undertaken to save the Union under the Constitutionto save the Union' while preserving inviolate all the rights of all the states. He so understood the oath by which he was invested with power. Whatever might be his hatred of slavery—and it was the intensest passion of his life—he could only interfere with it as a military necessity—an essential means of saving the Union.
EARLY in November, an event occurred which gave to our relations with England a very threatening aspect-an event which aroused the ire of the British people to a feverish pitch, encouraged the rebels, and filled with uneasiness the friends of the government. Although the blockade, under the energetic measures of the government, had become something very different from a blockade on paper, there were still many ports in the southern states which carried on a large contraband commerce, through the agency of blockade-runners, the majority of which were owned in England, and navigated by British seamen. The capture of the Hatteras forts and of the defenses of Port Royal Harbor had shut two of these ports; but Charleston, notwithstanding all the efforts of the blockading fleet, continued to receive numbers of foreign vessels, and to dispatch them in safety. On the twelfth of October, the steamship Theodora shot out of that harbor, with two notorious rebels on board, James M. Mason and John Slidell, both perjured senators of the United States, and accredited by the Davis government respectively to the governments of England and France. - They went to get recognition for their government. They went as enemies of the United States.
Proceeding to Cuba, these emissaries took passage from Havana on the seventh of November, on the British mail steamer Trent, bound immediately for St. Thomas. On the following day, the Trent was hailed by the United States frigate San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes, who directed a shot