previous next
[554] there, was glad thenceforth to take all that offered, and to solicit where it had been so earnestly solicited. The nation awoke from a dream of invincibility and easy triumph to find itself inextricably involved in a desperate and dubious struggle for life. And the thinly disguised or utterly undisguised exultation wherewith tile news of this disaster was received by thousands whose sympathy with the Rebels had hitherto been suppressed, or only indulged in secret, proved that, in the struggle now upon us, the Republic could not count on the support even of all those who still claimed to be loyal to the Constitution and Union.

On the other hand, the Rebellion was immensely strengthened and consolidated by its victory. Tens of thousands throughout the South, who had hitherto submitted in silence to proceedings which they condemned and deplored, but lacked the power or the courage to resist, yet whose hearts were still with their whole country and the old flag, now abandoned the Union as hopelessly lost, and sought, by zeal in the cause of the Rebellion, to efface the recollection of their past coldness and infidelity; while no one who had previously been a Rebel any longer cherished a shadow of doubt that the independence of the Confederacy was secured. The vote of Tennessee for Secession, the sudden uprising of a great Rebel army in Missouri, and the strengthening of the cause and its defenders everywhere, owe much of their impulse to the dispatches which flashed over the rejoicing South assurances that the grand army of the North, 35,000 to 50,000 strong, had been utterly routed and dispersed by Beauregard's 15,000 to 20,000 Confederates.

Yet it is to be added that, whatever the exultation of one party, the depression of the other was not without its compensations. The North, at first stunned, was ultimately rather chastened and sobered than disheartened or unnerved by its great disaster; while the South, intoxicated by its astounding success, expended in fruitless exultation energies that might better have been devoted to preparation for future and more determined struggles. If, as the Confederates were told, 15,000 of their raw recruits, badly armed and provided, had sufficed to rout and scatter double or treble their number of Yankees, superbly equipped for the contest, what need could there be for self-denial, and sacrifice, and a general volunteering to recruit their victorious armies? They hastily concluded that the struggle was virtually over — that nothing remained but to prescribe the terms on which peace should be accorded to the vanquished; and this delusion continued for months undispelled and effective.

And thus, while the instant effect of the tidings was the doubling of the Rebel numbers in the field and a reduction of ours by half, yet a few weeks sufficed to efface this disparity, and the expiration of three months saw our forces swelled voice more till they exceeded those of the enemy. The Nation, flung headlong to tie earth, and temporarily paralyzed by her fall, rose at length with a truer appreciation of tile power, the purpose, and the venom of her foes, and a firmer resolve that they should be grappled with and overcome.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Missouri (Missouri, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
G. T. Beauregard (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: