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"Let us alone !"


That was the passionate cry of the people of the South The demand of the the insincere demand of their authorities. It had become clear that Washington could neither be seized by a band of conspirators, nor captured by an army such as could then be brought into the field. After her overthrow at Bull Run the republic was stunned for a moment, but it was only for a moment. Any observer of what she forthwith prepared to do might be satisfied that it was no longer a battle, but a war that was at hand.


While the Confederate troops were commencing their The protestations of movement toward Manassas, the President of the Confederacy, in a message to his Congress, declared: "We feel that our cause is just and holy. We protest solemnly, in the face of mankind, that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honor. In independence we seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no cession of any kind from the states with which we have lately confederated. All we ask is to be let alone."

But Davis and his co-laborers for many months past— Report of the Com- as was declared by the national Congresmittee of Congress sional Committee on the Conduct of the War-"had been actively and openly making preparations to defy the jurisdiction of the government, and resist its authority. They had usurped the control of the machinery of one state government after another, and had overawed the loyal people of those states. They had even so far control of the national government itself as to make it not only acquiesce for the time being in measures for its own destruction, but to contribute to that end. They had seized its arms and munitions of war. They had that the South is not scattered and demoralized its army. They had sent its navy to the most distant parts of the world. They had put treason in the executive




but has done what


mansion, treason in the cabinet, treason in the Senate and House of Representatives, treason in the army and navy, treason in every department, bureau, and office. They had taken possession, almost without resistance, of every fort and harbor on their sea-coast, Fort Pickens at Pensacola, and the isolated fortifications and it could to provoke harbors of Tortugas and Key West, being the only exceptions. They were masters of the territory of the revolted states, much of which had been purchased with the national money, and for part of which the nation still remained in debt-a debt which they rejected. Dépôts, arsenals, fortifications had been seized by them. A speedy march upon the capital, speedy overthrow of the legal government, a speedy submission of a people too pusillanimous to maintain its rights, and a speedy subjection of the whole country to their assumptions, were their expectations."

Such was the accusation brought against them in the Congress of the nation. It denied that they were an oppressed, a much-enduring, an innocent people. It declared that they had themselves initiated war, and had made resistance not only necessary, but unavoidable. Government does not mean influenceit means force; a government which has neither the resolution nor the power to prevent itself being assassinated has no right to live.

and had even commenced it.

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So thought the free North. She foresaw that the partition of the republic meant the end of all representative government on this continent. It meant a cordon of custom-houses on the boundary-line, and, more than that, vast standing armies. If friends could not make laws without their being nullified, could aliens make treaties without their being broken? The history of the republic had demonstrated that the slave power, in the necessities of its existence, was essen

The North is compelled to resist.



tially aggressive; to invigorate it would not deprive it of that quality. Self-preservation compelled the North to resist. She saw that every thing she prized was at stake. Peace based upon partition was, in the very nature of things, illusory. In the former and happier days of the Union, nothing had given rise to more bitterness of feeling than the escape and non-restoration of fugitive slaves. Across the separating line of the two nations would they cease to flee? and was it to be supposed that they would ever be returned? But if not-what then? Very clearly the condition of the slave power in America was this-it must either dominate all over the continent or die.

The slave power essentially aggressive.


But in the clamor, "Let us alone," there was something deeply connected with the topic which has to be considered in this chapter—the form of the war. It needed but little penetration to perceive that the South had already intuitively discov ered her inevitable position in the coming contest. Whatever her wishes, her passions might be, in the momentous conflict she had provoked she was compelled to take the defensive.

The South, from the beginning, on the defensive.

It is the autumn after Bull Run. Let us scale, in any View of the interior place that we may, the rampart of the Borof the Confederacy. der States, and peer into the recesses of the Confederacy beyond. Confederacy of states! is that what we see? Are there governors, and Senates, and Houses of Representatives enacting and executing independent laws? No! but sitting in Richmond there is one man who is holding the telegraphs and railroads. Along the former he is sending forth his mandates which no one A despotism is al- may disobey; along the latter he is drawing ready inaugurated. from places near or distant their reluctant men and bounteous means. The aristocracy that lords it



over those white cotton lands, those fields of tobacco and maize, has engendered its natural, its inevitable product. It is no political confederacy that we look upon—it is a Despotism.

Along the sea-coast, on every fort a flag is flying— not those of the various sovereign states. It is the flag of a central power, every where the same. Men are constructing fortifications in all directions-some in the interior, some on the line of the Mississippi, some along the sea. Cannon, the spoils of Norfolk Navy Yard, are being dragged to these works. In every town, and court-house, and hamlet, men are drilling; their uniform clothing in gray answers to the uniform flag. The pursuits of peace are turned over to slaves. The factories that are busy are armories, machine-shops, founderies for shot and shell, gunpowder laboratories. White tents that are dotting it all over tell us that this is not the agricultural country it used to be. It is a vast military camp.


A despotism and a military camp! No matter under what name things may be passing, that is the reality to which they have come!

Military topography

To the eye of the national military critic, looking from the North, the country it is now proposed of the Confederacy to assail presents three distinctly marked regions, to which he gives the designations of the right, the central, the left, respectively. They are not bounded by merely imaginary lines, but parted by grand geographical objects. The right region is all that portion of the insurgent territory west of the Mississippi River; the central region is the country lying between

the Mississippi and the Alleghany Mountains; the left is that lying between those mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. The great natural lines of separation thus dividing the Confederacy are the Mississippi River and the Alleghany Mountains.

Its three regions, or





These three military regions are not of equal impor tance. The right, or trans-Mississippi, is nec Their relative value. essarily weaker, since it is separated from the others by a broad and difficult river, across which communication may be interrupted: it is intrinsically of little military value, sparsely peopled, unhealthy, its resour ces comparatively little developed, its roads and lines of transportation imperfect. On the other hand, in the left The left zone the region, or that included between the Allemost important. ghany Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, are many great cities, among them the capital of the Confederacy. This region has a dense population, many lines of locomotion, and abundant facilities for transportation. Virginia, which is its most northerly portion, stands like a vast bastion to the Confederacy, its flanked angle projecting toward the Free States. The upheaval of the Alleghanies in former ages (vol. i., p. 68) has given her a system of longitudinal valleys running to the northMilitary topography east: her mountain ranges consist of majesof Virginia. tic folds of the earth's crust, with those depressions between them. Here and there transversal and secondary valleys cross through the mountain lines-gaps, in the country language. Screened from observation, through the main valleys as through sally-ports the forces of the Confederacy may securely move.

Such was the general aspect of the South. Her capacity for war lay in the staple products she had on hand and those that her slaves might be found willing to raise. Her financial strength, which was the measure of her war-strength, turned on the pos

sibility of converting those products into gold. None but desperate gamesters would undertake to conduct vast military movements by an unlimited is sue of paper based upon nothing; but the rattle of dice

The financial capacity of the Cotton States for war.

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