« PreviousContinue »
GENERAL ASPECT OF AFFAIRS
Our situation at the close of this month was full of promise. Butler was åt New Orleans-Curtis was once more on the march, pushing his way to Little Rock, the Capital of Arkansas-Halleck was at Corinth-Davis, though still at Fort Wright, evidently saw his way to Memphis-while Mitchell, in Alabama, advanced from victory to victory, holding a vast territory in subjection, and with but little loss of life taking possession of important points. Pensacola was ours, Mobile was threatened, while Hunter was feeling his way towards Charleston. The government had adopted vigorous measures to redeem the ground lost by Banks, and but little solicitude was felt for the national cause in any direction except before Richmond. Great confidence was reposed in McClellan, but it was universally believed that the original plan of the Peninsula campaign had been abandoned, and the country feared that the government had left him to perform a task for which he had not sufficient means. It was felt that the annihilation of the rebel army there would practically end the rebellion, while a defeat to our army would prolong the war indefinitely, and possibly bring about complications that might entirely change the character of the struggle. The French Minister at Washington had visited Richmond GH an unkņown mission, causing many anxious surmises, which the advance of the French army towards Mexico, with the evident intention of conquering that country, did not tend to allay. The reports from England showed an uneasy state of things there, and it seemed of the most vital importance that our career of unbroken success, since the Spring opened, should not be arrested by a disaster in front of the rebel Capital. A mystery hung round the government at Washington in respect to the army of McClellan, that greatly disturbed the public feeling, which a thousand yague rumors increased. Congress, which seemed destitute of statęsmen of large expansive yiews concerning the subject of slavery,
REDUCING THE ARMY.
occupied itself in harangues about individual and isolated cases, instead of treating it as a national question.
There was scarcely a commander in the field that was not in turn denounced by members either for sending back fugi. tives, or forbidding them to enter the lines. If a General took proper precautions to prevent pillage, it was stigmatized as a protection of rebel property. Even McClellan was accused of protecting the “White House” as it was called, while our sick and wounded suffered for shelter and water, and the Secretary of War was called upon to put a stop to it. In reply to a letter of inquiry from the latter respecting the charge, he denied it emphatically, and for once, provoked from his studied silence, denounced those who circulated and gave credence to such reports, as enemies of their country.
But nothing showed so strikingly the incapacity of Congress, and its inability to comprehend the true position and wants of the country as the proposal of its leading members to reduce the army. But more astounding than all, the Secretary of War had actually issued an order stopping enlist ments of volunteers, and this month witnessed the anomalous, extraordinary spectacle of disbanded regiments and closed recruiting stations. The two great rebel armies were still in the field, while the confederate government had completed its conscription, which embraced all able bodied men between eighteen and thirty-five, and thus more than doubled its military force. We, in the mean time, were losing by sickness, wounds and death, more than ten thousand men a month, and the great decisive battles were yet to be fought. It would seem that our victories west had deluded the government into the belief that the war was actually over, or that some strange hallucination had seized it. The Secretary of War saw the rebel army doubling-ours rapidly diminishing, while the great struggle was yet to take place, and despite all bade the people who were rushing to the field lay down their
arms and go home. There is no occasion to go any farther, to account for the disasters that followed—the two acts, one taking away a military head from the army, and substituting in its place the department at Washington--the other, doubling his own-are quite sufficient without seeking other
enemy. causes for it. They cost and will cost us millions of treasure and tens of thousands of lives.
From these and many other reasons, it was felt that a defeat before Richmond would be most calamitous, while a decisive victory there would dispose of all difficulties, and give us a clear field for the future. The public, therefore, made up its mind that McClellan should give us one. It would not entertain the idea of probable defeat, listen to no excuses, not even contemplate facts. It was of vital importance to the country that Richmond should fall, and there. fore fall it must.
The people, however, soon learned, that the immutable laws of Providence can not be arrested by clamor, but march on, apparently heedless of consequences to men or nations, to their legitimate results.
MOVEMENTS AT THE WEST-EVACUATION OF MEMPHISNAVAL ACTION BEFORE
IT-EXPEDITION UP THE WHITE RIVER-EXPLOSION ON BOARD THE MOUND
CITY-FORT AT SAINT CHARLES CAPTURED BY COLONEL FITCH-BUTLER AT
NEW ORLEANS-PIERRE SOULE SENT NORTH UNDER ARREST-CHATTANOOGA
TAKENBUELL SUPPOSED TO BE ADVANCING TO THE RELIEF OF EAST TEN
NESSEE-GRATIFICATION OF THE PEOPLE-SUFFERINGS OF THE UNIONISTS THERE+PARSON BROWNLOW-KEEPS THE OLD FLAG FLYING-HEROISM OF HIS DAUGHTER-RELIEVED AND COMES NORTH-HIS STORY OF THE BARBARITIES OF THE REBELS-HIS RECEPTION IN THE NORTHERN CITIES-MOR
GAN SEIZES CUMBERLAND GAP,
FTER the evacuation of Corinth the rebels fell back to
different positions, at none of which were they attacked by our army, and a long period of inaction in the field followed, broken only by the dashes of Mitchell in Alabama.
Our flotilla on the Mississippi, however, continued to advance down the river, and there seemed every prospect of its soon forming a junction with that of Farragut. Forts Pillow and Randolph were both evacuated, and it slowly proceeded towards Memphis, and on the sixth came in sight of the city, with its spires and cupolas glittering in the morning sun. All was quiet and tranquil, and the occupation of the place promised to be as bloodless as that of the forts above. But as the fleet proceeded towards the lower end of the town, the rebel flotilla was discovered lying close to the Arkansas shore.
NAVAL ACTION BEFORE MEMPHIS.
Our boats had drifted down stern foremost, and now Davis signalled to have the engines reversed, and to proceed
FIERCE NAVAL FIGHT:
up stream, designing to give his crews breakfast before the fight. The rebels construed this into a retreat, and immediately came on in high spirits, sending shot after shot at the Benton. There were eight rebel gun boats, while Davis had but five. Attached to the latter, however, were four rams, commanded by Captain Ellet, under whose personal supervision they had been got up, though in great haste, being made from ferry boats, or such vessels as could be most easily transformed into them. From the outset of the war, he had urged upon the government the efficiency of such vessels, and experience having proved his views to be correct, he had been assigned to duty on the Mississippi.
The rebels had the advantage both in the number of gun boats, and in being able to fight up stream, by which they had more perfect control of their vessels in the swift current. They were evidently aware of this, and came on with full confidence that they could destroy our fileet. The inhabitants of Memphis shared in this feeling, and issuing from their houses as the first shots awoke the morning echoes, crowded the banks of the river to witness the fight.
The Lancaster, one of our rams, having met with an accicent, could not share in the engagement, and was taken in tow by her consort the Switzerland. The other two, Queen of the West, and Monarch, as soon as the firing commenced, clapped on steam, and came bowling along at a tremendous rate-sweeping past the gun boats, and steering straight for the rebel vessels. Throwing up an angry swell from her wow in her headlong speed, the little Queen of the West made boldly for the Beauregard. It was an exciting moment, the firing ceased, and all eyes were turned, both from the decks of the vessels and the shore, on these two vessels. The Captain of the Beauregard, seeing that the ram was making for him, by a skillful movement avoided the blow, and as the former rushed past, opened with cannon, firing