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378

A NARROW ESCAPE.

not a day nor an hour too soon in making the attack. A few hours later, and the Louisiana would have taken position that would have driven every vessel off. A few weeks later, and an impregnable sea-going vessel would have been afloat, before which our entire navy must have disappeared like mere toy ships in a gale. Secondly: that an overruling Providence saved us, and not the naval department or the government. It had long been known that formidable engines of destruction were constructing at New Orleans, just as it was known that the Merrimac was being covered with iron at Norfolk, yet little was done towards constructing any thing to match them. It makes one shudder to think how near our boasted naval superiority came being made a by-word, and the blockade we were so fearful the European powers would raise, destroyed by the confederates themselves.

But while such momentous events at the west and southwest distinguished the month of April, it being heralded in by the capture of Island Number Ten and the battle of Shiloh, and attended out by our victorious cannon before New Or. leans, others, though not so startling, yet equally important characterized the month at the east.

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CHAPTER XXIX.

APRIL, 1862

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BUCCESS ALONG THE ATLANTIC COAST-MCCLELLAN WITH HIS ARMY AT FOR

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TRESS MONROE-HOW THE NEWS WAS RECEIVED BY THE PUBLIC-GENERAL

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PLAN OF THE WARPLAN OF TIIE PENINSULA CAMPAIGN---HOW BROKEN UP

--THE ARMY ADVANCES TO YORKTOWN-ESCAPE OF THE NASHVILLE-TIE

SUMTER BLOCKADED AT GIBRALTAR-VESSELS RUNNING THE BLOCKADE AT

CHARLESTON-PROGRESS OF TIE SIEGLAT YORKTOWNFREMONT IN THE

MOUNTAIN DEPARTMENT-AUGUR

ADVANCES TO

FREDERICKSBURGH-TIIE

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SIEGE AND CAPTURE OF FORT PULASKI --BATTLE OF APACHE PASS-RENO

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HILE the month of April was bringing us such a suc

cession of victories west, every thing was prosperous on the Atlantic slope. Dupont was successful in every enterprise on the Florida coast, while the news from forts Pulaski and Macon, made it certain that Sherman and Burnside would soon place those two strongholds in our possession. The only drawback on these bright prospects cast, was the consciousness that we were frittering away our strength too much on isolated points, and dividing our forces to seize places that would fall of themselves, were the great armies in the field defeated. We needed more concentration, as events soon showed.

But the most exciting news was, that the Ariny of the Potomac had suddenly arrested its onward movement, and a mighty host of over a hundred thousand men were anchored in transports off fortress Monroe. The country had learned, weeks previous, though the news was scrupulously kept out of the press, that every thing in the vicinity of New York which could carry troops, had been chartered by the gove ernment, and knew that a large transfer of force was in con

380

AN INEXPLICABLE MOVEMENT.

templation in the neighborhood of the Chesapeake. The address of McClellan to the army, when he took personal command, had prepared the country for some sudden move. But when it became apparent that his destination was Yorktown, every one was taken by surprise. The fortifications of this place extended entirely across the peninsula, from York to James rivers, and at either extremity were protected by batteries of immense strength. Special attention had been given to them by the rebels from the outset of the war. They knew it was the most direct route to Richmond, and hence had made them, as they supposed, impregnable. Mounted with heavy guns, fronted with rifle pits and easy of access to the whole rebel force in Virginia, they presented a most formidable appearance, and it seemed as though McClellan had chosen the very spot the rebels would have selected to try the issue, had they been consulted. For six months, his enemies had been assailing him for not moving forward upon the enemy at Manassas, and his friends had defended him on the ground that it was unwise, and would only end in fearful slaughter, to advance on works which the rebels had so long been erecting there. But at last they were evacuated, and the enemy must either retreat to Richmond, or give him a field fight. Yet, just as the whole country was congratulating itself on this favorable turn of affairs, he halted his magnificent army, and in sight of the deserted fortifications, wheeled to the right about, and at an enormous expense to the government, planted that arry before works five times as strong as those in front of which he had so long lainidle, and also incapable of being turned by any flank movement on land. His enemies sneered, declaring that we should have a summer campaign before Yorktown-', many military men denounced it as a huge blander, while those who still maintained their firm confidence in his skill, found it difficult to explain satisfactorily this extraordinary

POPULAR NOTIONS OF WAR.

381

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movement. That he could effect any thing before the rebels could concentrate their whole army there, no one believed, and instead of fighting it in the field, he must fight it behind the strongest intrenchments on the continent. The transportation of such an immense army, with all its munitions of war and forage almost simultaneously, was a gigantic undertaking.

Suck and similar remarks were made by the press and public, and many wise prophecies uttered respecting the future. The difficulty with the people and men of limited military knowledge was, that they thought war consists in fighting. the enemy

wherever you find him, at once, forgetting that a campaign to be successful must be based on a well laid plan, a thorough knowledge of the country-its great strategic points, the resources of the enemy and our own, while all the movements should tend to a common grand result. Men talked of Bonaparte's victories, as though he rushed blindly with his strong legions from point to point, wherever the enemy could be found. But probably no man that ever lived, certainly no warrior of modern times, equalled him in extensive combinations. Not a column was ever started till his whole campaign was thought out, and every movement had relation to all others. His great success grew out of his not only thinking quicker, but better than his enemy.

If ever there was a country in the world in which to carry on a war successfully, great forethought and preparation are necessary, it is the United States.

The tidings of the movements of armies so remote, reaching the common center simultaneously, from Missouri, Tennessee, the mouth of the Mississippi, Mobile, Savannah, and North Carolina, gave a vivid conception of the vast field covered by our military operations, and showed what a comprehensive mind was needed to embrace it all in a single harmonious plan. The same paper would tell the readers of the capture of Island Number Ten, describe the battle of

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382

PLAN OF THE CAMPAIGN

the giants at Pittsburg landing, give a dispatch from Fre. mont in the mountain department stating that the energetic Milroy was driving the enemy from his fastnesses; another from McDowell, that Fredericksburg was probably evacuated; state the progress of our army before Yorktown, and cheer the heart with the news of triumphs along the Atlantic coast.

The original plan, both of Scott and McClellan was to attack the enemy with two great armies as early in the Spring of 1862, as circumstances would permit. Before that time, the necessary arrangements could not be completed. Gun boats were to act in concert with both, while smaller columns were to advance on the flanks in easy supporting distance. Each was to have as near three hundred thousand men as the force in the field would permit. One thousand guns were to com pose the artillery force, and when this mighty array, with the gun boats, should take up its march, it was believed that nothing the rebels had in the field would be able to resist it. The

army of the west was to move down through Kentucky and Tennessce, precisely as it did. The only interference with its movements by the executive authority there, was to order it forward before the army of the east was ready. That this was a mistake, though not a fatal one, does not admit of a doubt, and in the future will be no more discussed than the simplest axiom in mathematics.

This movement west, as it was intended it should, caused the evacuation of Manassas. Though the people demanded a battle there and jumped to the conclusion that it would be a decisive victory, McClellan and every military man knew, that with such a country in his rear, intersected by rivers the bridges over which could be destroyed as soon as passed -and with railroads leading to Richmond, the enemy could retreat at any time and at leisure, and that no decisive battle could be fought there, and hence had better not be fought

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