What paeans to the honor of the Jupiter
in the Capitol
should we have heard resounding from the Olympus in the Blackfriars, if the battle of Bull Run
had filled Manassas Gap with the corpses of the Confederates
Then would the swelling strain have rolled across the Atlantic
in notes outpealing the loudest New York thunder.
Then would history and imagination have been stretched for parallels to the greatness of the conflict and the glory of the victors.
Then would the Confederate
cause have been denounced as abhorrent to gods and men-treason of the utmost turpitude, rebellion of parricidal wickedness.
Then should we have been told that Beauregard
had chosen his own ground, the strongest between the Potomac
, had strengthened it with all military strength, concealed within a cincture of wood and hill, ninety thousand men, and had been driven from his intrenchment by twenty or thirty thousand undisciplined volunteers, fired with the ardor of conscious rectitude, and made invincible by the heroism of disinterested valor.
The battle has gone the other way,--and, behold, the laurels that have been woven for President Lincoln
are proffered to President Davis
Yet, not quite so. “We” who were in the “route” had the momentary candor to admit that it was a drawn battle, not a disgraceful defeat.
The fugitives may rally.
The numbers may be balanced.
The event may be reversed.
It is not safe to crown Beauregard
has been vanquished.
Meanwhile, till the eagle settles on this banner or on that, let us revile the combatants.
Let us say the National
army was “a screaming crowd,” and the Confederates
only less frightened than the “mob” that fled when no man pursued.
Let us say, in the face of plainest facts, that the forces were equal, and the encounter an open and stand — up fight.
Let us require of soldiers from the counting-house and farm, the steady courage of veterans.
Let us suppress all reference to frequency of panic in battle; make the “riffraff” of the regiments represent “the grand army ;” transfer, from a few lawless ruffians who escaped the Provost-Marshal
, to the entire expedition, the shame of burning houses on the outward march, and fleeing back pale-faced over the smoking embers.
Let us do all this with an affectation of surprise and regret, and hold off till we see whether the Confederates
capture Harper's Ferry
It is thus the Times
seems to have taken counsel with itself, after the perusal of its Special Correspondent's graphic narrative of the panic that followed on a well-sustained fight.
The fight he did not see. The panic naturally shocked and enraged an historian who has seen as much of wars as Xenophon
The Special Correspondent will, doubtless, be able to make good his story against the reclamations of men who saw less and felt differently.
But what can we expect from the American
press, when it finds a leading English journal deliberately and recklessly pouring vinegar and vitriol into the wounds of the national pride and sensibility?
How can we expect our kinsmen of the North
to believe in our friendship and good wishes, when our newspapers go out laden with columns of scornful comment upon a disaster that might prove fatal to a people less high-spirited and resolute?
What can they think of our anti-slavery sentiment, or even of our international neutrality, when they see the slaveholding rebellion treated with far greater respect than the Government
elected by millions of freedom-loving freemen, and the atrocious rhapsodies of the New York Herald
quoted as the utterance of a settled transatlantic policy?
If there were no sin or shame in exaggerating and ridiculing an event fraught with poignant suffering to a friendly and consanguineous nation — if decency did not restrain us from laughing aloud at the fears of the brave and the errors of the great — surely prudence should teach us not to provoke the bitter resentment of a people of eighteen millions, by scoffing at their momentary humiliation.
Must we make enemies on both sides the Atlantic
, in both hemispheres of the globe and of government?
Are we to provoke beyond bearing imperial France
and republican America
Ought we not rather to guard our speech by the friendly wisdom that errs, if at all, on the side of friendliness?
If it were true that the Americans
of the North
are braggart cowards, they would still be our nearest of kin, and their cause would still be that of solid government and universal liberty.
But we trust that the press of England
, as a whole, will make it to be felt wherever the just authority of President Lincoln
is recognized, that we grieve when they are humbled — that we confide in the strength of their resources and purposes as in the goodness of their cause — and that while we heartily desired them to avert civil war by a peaceful separation, we now as heartily pray God to give them a happy issue out of their fiery trial.--London Morning Star
The disaster which has befallen the army of the United States is undoubtedly a great one, though we cannot say that it was wholly unexpected, and still less that it is irretrievable.
Vast bodies of men new to arms, unversed in the ordinary evolutions of warfare, and almost as much so in regimental discipline, are brought face to face with one of the most difficult tasks that soldiers can be called upon to perform, and they prove unequal to it. In this there is nothing wonderful.
If they had succeeded, it would have been immensely to their credit — not merely for raw heroism, but for disciplined valor — precisely that quality which they have had the least opportunity of acquiring.
The intrinsic magnitude of the misfortune is a repulse before a position which was deliberately selected for its strategical advantages, and which has since been diligently fortified with