Page images


It is fired by the se

The inevitable hour struck at last. Richmond, abandoned and defenseless, stood alone in presence of the Great Power it had defied. The Confederate authorities had fled, and had given orders to set it on fire. In vain the inhabitants, pallid with terror, implored to be spared that atrocity. With exquisite wickedness, the hose of the cession officers, fire-engines had been cut. There was nothing to stop the devouring flames. An unparalleled conflagration was the result. Richmond, once the great mart of the internal slave-trade, was entered by conquering regiments of negro troops. They came through the smoke, amidst blazing houses, bursting shells, and exploding magazines, singing "Old John Brown." They came, not to revenge, but to protect.

and its saved

United States.

And the republic founded by Washington, a Virginian, forgetting in a moment the long agony from famine by the she had been made to endure, stretched forth both her hands to succor and sustain bleeding and fainting Virginia. Men, women, and chil dren who were famishing in Richmond, were fed by the merciful conqueror.


The last days of Richmond as a metropolis.


In connection with the capture of the navy yard at Norfolk may be mentioned the disgraceful surrender of that at Pensacola, in Florida, by the officers having charge of it, and the honorable defense of Fort Pickens.

Surrender of the
Pensacola yard.

Florida, purchased from Spain by the money of the Union, had seceded on January 12th, and immediately made a demand for the yard. Of the works guarding it the most important was Fort Pickens, a stone casemated structure on Santa Rosa Island. On the shore opposite to it there was a smaller work, Fort M'Rea; and a third, Fort Barrancas, about a couple of miles distant. At the

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

time when the American flag was hauled down at the navy yard, and the stores, guns, and munitions turned over to the insurgents, Fort Barrancas was abandoned.

Defense of Fort

But this scene of military disgrace was not consummated. The little Fort M'Rea was in charge Pickens. of a young officer, Lieutenant Slemmer. He collected together what force he could, and, obtaining some marines from the steamer Wyandotte, in all about eighty men, he spiked the guns of M'Rea, and threw himself into Fort Pickens, holding that important work, which was one of the keys of the Gulf of Mexico, until the middle of April, when it was effectually garrisoned and provisioned by the government.




The South secured her sea-coast line by seizing the national fortresses; her northern line by asserting the rights of neutrality of the Border States. On the West she blockaded the Mississippi.

Shut up thus within herself, she established throughout her territory an iron des


There were four classes in her population. Their condition became that of a state of siege.

Comparison of the political value of Richmond, the metropolis of the Confederacy, with that of Washington.

THOUGH assurances were perpetually given by the leadWar preparations in ers of secession that their design would sucthe Confederacy. ceed without difficulty, and perhaps without a resort to war, they made every preparation to obtain military security for their new Confederacy. They commenced by seizing all the fortresses and dépôts estab lished in their limits by the United States for the defense of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Some of these had been very costly; several were very powerful works-a cordon along the shore, judged to be amply sufficient to give security to that part of the republic in case of European war, but capable of being appropriated without difficulty by the people it was intended to defend, since it was vir tually ungarrisoned.

The sea and Gulf fronts of the new Confederacy thus protected, it was supposed that the landthe north front thus front, looking northward toward the Free

The coast front and

made safe,

States, might be made secure by resorting to the apparently peaceable measure of playing off the



Constitution against itself. No pains were spared to secure in the Border States-the tier of states intervening between the cotton region and the free North-reliable governors and Legislatures. These states, by assuming a position of neutrality, might ward off the forces of the republic under the plea that they had done nothing to justify invasion by it. Meantime their military popula tion was individually, and therefore, it might be said, imperceptibly, able to re-enforce the armies of the Confeder acy, and their military resources could be quietly added to its strength.

Under the protection of this vast breastwork, this tier of ostensibly peaceable and neutral states, reaching from beyond the Mississippi eastward to the Atlantic Ocean, the people who had revolted from the republic expected to organize their political institutions in security; and that, even should war break out, its shock would not fall upon them. The Border States must be the battle-field of the Confederacy.


Distance, and the impracticability of carrying on milithe west front inac- tary operations in a sparsely peopled country a country without good roads and without available resources, seemed to give ample security on the western frontier. The Mississippi River, as a central and the Mississippi avenue to the interior recesses of the Conblockaded. federacy, might be closed without difficulty against all adventurers. The forts at New Orleans prohibited any ascent, and batteries could easily be constructed below the junction of the Ohio at Cairo that would bar all descent down the stream.

The national army

If such was the encouraging prospect when the de fenses of the Confederate territory were conand navy dispersed. sidered, not less, satisfactory was the condi tion of its expected assailant. With provident care for the success of the conspiracy, Floyd had dispatched the




mass of the United States army to the frontier. The Secretary of the Navy had sent the national ships to distant parts of the world. History lent no countenance to the supposition that it would be possible to put a shoreline of many thousand miles under a valid blockade. When Lincoln came into power he had only forty-two national ships with which to do that and meet all other naval requirements.

It was, therefore, not without reason, expected that the cultivation of tobacco and cotton, those great

sources of wealth, could be carried on as heretofore; that unrestrained access to the ocean on the one side, and the urgent necessities of Europe on the other, would continue the profitable commerce which for so many years past had enriched the South. So clear did this appear, that it was not considered necessary by the leaders of secession to resort to any measures for the immediate transportation of the great stock of those staples on hand to Europe, it being concluded that, should the government undertake any such measures as a closure of the ports or the establishment of a blockade, the western powers of Europe would at once interfere.

The Confederacy would have the good wishes of Europe.


Life in the Cotton

[ocr errors]

Behind the impregnable rampart of the Border States there would thus exist, in peace and security, a Cotton Paradise, its free inhabitant relieved from the primeval curse, and gaining his bread by the sweat of another man's brow. Should the African trade be reopened, every one of the ruling race might have as many laborers as he pleased. It was not very material what terms were contained in the written Constitution of the new nation, since the recognized right of peaceable secession covered every difficuldy for all political ty. Should South Carolina, in the course of events, readopt the policy she had at the

Secession a reme

« PreviousContinue »