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was already audible in the council chamber at Richmond. There were, however, many able and patriotic men in the seceding states, who, accepting as an accomplished fact the calamity into which their country had been plunged, and willing to make the best of it, unceasingly urged upon the Confederate government the seizure of the cotton and its rapid shipment to Europe. As
Mistake in not send
ing the cotton to Eu- is commonly the case in the uproar of rebellions and revolutions, the voice of wisdom
INVESTMENT OF THE CONFEDERACY.
was not heard.
And now arose before the national government the question how it should reduce this insurgent population
The South must de
-a population brave enough and numerous enough to accomplish its intention, if only it were rich enough. But this population had never clothed itself, never fed itself. It depended on foreign sources. If such had pend on foreign sup- always been its condition in a state of peace, much more must it be so now in a state of war: rifles, cannon, munitions of every kind must be brought from abroad. Three million bales of cotton might, perhaps, be raised by the slave force: this would go far to meet these wants if it had an unobstructed transit across the sea.
Such considerations, therefore, settled the question as to what, for the national government, was the proper form of war. A closure of the Southern ports or their blockade was the correct antagonism. In the ur
A blockade of her
ports determined gency of the moment a blockade was adopted. Perhaps it had been better (p. 29) had a simple closure been preferred. Practically, however, so far as the government and its opponent were concerned, the same force must be resorted to in either case.
Thus the character or aspect which the war must needs Conditions of a assume was quickly manifested. The issue obviously turned on this: Had the govern
ment sufficient physical power to enforce and maintain such a beleaguering? Could it make the Atlantic an impenetrable sea?
But more-it must arrest ingress and egress along the north front of the Border States, and along the west front of the trans-Mississippi regions. To accomplish all this, it must call into existence powerful navies and vast armies.
It must shut up hermetically an area of 733,144 square The vast extent of miles; it must guard by armies an interior country shut up. boundary-line 7031 miles in length, and by ships a coast-line of 3523 miles, a shore-line of 25,414 miles-that is, actually more than the entire circumfer ence of the earth (24,895 miles).
What-viewed as a military operation-was all this? Was it not a vast siege, throwing into nothingness all previous sieges in the world's history?
We may, then, excuse the incredulity with which for eign nations regarded the attempt of the republic to carry out her intention of reducing to obedience twelve millions of people intrenched in what seemed to be impregnable works. Especially may we do this when we recall the fact that the initial military force by which it was to be accomplished was an army of 16,000 men, and a navy of 42 ships.
INVESTMENT OF THE CONFEDERACY.
Apparent impossibility of such an investment.
But it was not merely a passive encircling of the Character of the ag- Confederacy which was needed; there must gressive operations. also be offensive and aggressive movements. Hence it was necessary to determine what were the proper points of the application of force, and which the correct lines of its direction.
At this time the military topography of the country was little known, and many mistakes were takes committed. made in dealing with this problem. It was long before those generals who had true professional
CHAP. XLI.] THE NECESSARY MILITARY OPERATIONS.
views on the subject could secure their adoption, and accomplish a separation of crude political intentions from scientific military movements. In the inexperience of the times, instead of one grand and overwhelming plan of operations, a dozen little ones were resorted to. Wherever there was political influence there was a political clamor, and to that point a military force must be sent. In the beginning of 1862, the period we have now more particularly under consideration," there were not less than ten different national armies, and as many different lines of operation, all acting more or less concentrically on the theatre of war. Not one was so strong but that the Confederates might have concentrated a stronger against it." The ablest military critics were loudly declaiming against such a violation of the rules of their art.
In deciding on warlike operations, two things must be considered: 1st. The political object proposed to be attained. 2d. The military movements necessary for its accomplishment. Not unfrequently these seem to involve contradictions.
The opening of the Mississippi was the political object of the West; the capture of Richmond that
of the East; but, in a military sense, neither of these could in itself be decisive, and, so far as they might be made the ultimate object of the warlike operations, they could be considered only as mistakes.
At first it was supposed that the opening of the Mississippi must be accomplished by operations on its waters, an opinion much strengthened by the brilliant success of Farragut in the capture of New Orleans; but that great officer himself was destined to furnish a proof of the inadequacy of this method. In the attack he made on Vicksburg, though many hundred shot and shell were thrown into the place, no impression whatever was made upon it; not a single
The political objects proposed.
First ideas as to the mode of opening the Mississippi.
gun was dismounted; only seven men were killed, and fif teen wounded.
THE EAST-WEST LINE.
Once more let us reconnoitre the recesses of the Con
View of the military federacy, examining not its political, but its military condition. What do we see?
There is one long line of railroad reaching from MemThe great west-east phis, on the Mississippi, to Charleston, on the Atlantic. It is the only complete east and west bond connecting the Confederacy through its breadth. What if this vital line were snapped? It would be the severing of the Confederacy. The Atlantic portion would be parted from the Mississippi portion. The unity of the Confederacy hangs on a very slender thread. The Richmond government plainly discerns how much is depending on this line. Slender though it may be, it is indispensably necessary to them. For its protection, for the avoidance of the catastrophe which must follow its rupture, they have established parallel to it, and one hundred and fifty miles to the north of it, a military line consisting of fortresses, armies, an intrenched camp. That military line extends from Columbus, on the Mississippi, through Forts Henry and Donelson, to Bowling Green.
The work of an assailant is, therefore, manifestly to burst through the military line, and break the railroad line beyond.
Means prepared by
But, furthermore, there is a navigable river, the Tennessee, flowing perpendicularly through the first of these lines; and running parallel to
Availability of the Tennessee for breaking it.
the second. That is the invader's true path. Plainly along it, and not down the impregnably fortified and impassable Mississippi, blows fatal to the Confederacy may be delivered. The Mississippi itself is not the true line of attack. Even if it were seized, the great rail
road is not necessarily touched. Moreover, it is a military consequence that the strong fortresses on the Missis sippi must be surrendered on the passage of an army in
Two great events will therefore necessarily follow the The two results fol- passage of an army strong enough to mainlowing that opera- tain itself along the Tennessee. They are: 1st. The bisection of the Confederacy, its eastern and western portions being severed. 2d. The gratification of the popular demand that the Mississippi should be opened.