Zzzsecret of England's demonstration.
While it is true that during this domestic peace of over 200 years, the British
‘have carried the English
flag victorious from the Seine to the Indus, from Calcutta
, from Madrid
,’ it has been more by the skill of diplomacy and strategy, and especially more by sea power than by the movements of great forces.
If we except the American
campaigns and Wellington
's operations against Napoleon
, all the English
fighting done in two centuries would scarce amount to that of General Lee
in the single county of Spotsylvania
, and would not amount to the fighting done by Early
‘A sea shell,’ says Emerson
, ‘should be the crest of England
only because it represents a power built on the waves, but also because of the hard finish of the men.’
She is mistress of the seas; she is the dictator of finance and commerce—there is the key of her ascendancy.
Who, then, would you say next?
Would you say Clive
, the military statesman who conquered Hindoostan?
He, who at the battle of Plassey, on the 23d of June, 1757, in Everett
's fine words, ‘laid the foundations of a subject Empire to Great Britain
at the gates of the morning?’
When it is remembered that he dispersed the army of the Indian Nabob
, estimated at sixty or seventy thousand, with a thousand European
soldiers and two thousand Indian Sepoy troops, and that his training was that of a government clerk, his genius and accomplishments are plain indeed.
But when we reflect that his loss was twenty-two killed and about fifty wounded, and that his superior artillery broke the masses of the effeminate foe, we see how ridiculous it is to compare such exploits to the great movements of the Confederate
war, and how ridiculous it would be to rank their heroes as military commanders with the leaders of such armies as those of Lee
, or Sheridan
What matters it to the wolves how many the sheep be?
And how can a romp of the wolves among the cattle be compared to the combats of lions?
Would you say Havelock
Christian gentleman, gallant officer, true hero, I admit, but only a little Clive
, a brigadier general who fought the same manner of men and overlaid them with superiority of every kind.
Would you say Charles George Gordon
, Chinese Gordon
, as they call him, who was only a captain of engineers in the Crimean War
, and who, while we were fighting in the Confederacy
, was helping the Emperor
to suppress the Taiping rebellion, and who was finally killed in the Soudan by a handful of Arabs?
Brave man he was, indeed; but he never commanded even an English brigade.
To compare his skirmishes with the semi-barbarians to such actions as we had in war, or him to any great Confederate leader, would be to belittle—aye, to abandon all ideas of military criticism.
Who would say Lord Raglan, who commanded in the Crimea?
He died of disease after incomplete experiences, and cannot furnish a subject of comparison.