This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 reading. But there are exceptions; and one of these is the Report of the Joint Committee of Congress on the Conduct of the War. Indeed, compared with such mild pastorals as ‘Some Account of the Cheese Manufacture in Central New York,’ or ‘Remarks on the Cultivation of Alfalfa in Western Tennessee,’ it is quite luridly sensational, and in parts reminds us of those striking Reports of the Duke of Alva to his royal master, which have been disinterred in the dusty archives of Simancas. As a study of congressional nature, military nature, and human nature generally in its least attractive aspects, these eight stout volumes are richly worth perusal. Here the reader is allowed to peep behind the scenes of that portentous drama; here he may see the threads of the intrigues that centred in Washington; may hear a petty newspaper correspondent demonstrating with an animation that we can scarcely ascribe to fervid patriotism, the incapacity, the ignorance, and even the doubtful ‘loyalty’ of the commander--in chief; may see private malignity and vindictiveness putting on grand Roman airs, and whispering delators draping themselves in the toga of Brutus. However, it is not with these aspects of the report that we at present have to do, but with the despatches of General Sherman on his march through Georgia and South Carolina. A great deal of fiction, and some verse,1 we believe, have been written about this famous march or grand foray; but here we have the plain matter-of-fact statement of things as they were, and they form a luminous illustration of the advance of civilization in the nineteenth century as exemplified in the conduct of invasions, showing how modern philanthropy and humanitarianism, while acknowledging that for the present war is a necessary evil, still strive to mitigate its horrors, and spare all avoidable suffering to non-combatants. For this purpose we have thought it worth while to reproduce a few of the most striking extracts, illustrating the man, his spirit, and his work. A kind of key-note is sounded in the despatch to General Stoneman of May 14th, which, after ordering him ‘to press down the valley strong,’ ends with the words, ‘Pick up whatever provisions and plunder you can.’ On June 3d the question of torpedoes is discussed, and General
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.