[from the New York Times, Oct. 8.]
Notwithstanding the very small attention with which Western operations are regarded, (unless a defeat occur,) this place is just now one possessing military elements of the greatest interest.
Not only is it a point at which Gen. Fremont
is to demonstrate to an anxious public his fitness or unfitness for the tremendous responsibilities he has assumed, but it is also one at which are being created events and circumstances which ere long will decide the long- disputed question as to the fate of Missouri
Here are concentrating all the talent, the material, the energies, of the Department of the West--here are the actors rehearsing their parts preparatory to another drama, such as was shown at Springfield
One Thursday of some months ago, Jackson
issued his treasonable proclamation from this very place.
Friday Gen. Lyon
drove him a fugitive from his Capital, and the next Monday
dislodged him from Booneville
and hunted him from the State
People who remember this are disposed to grumble as they reflect that two weeks have elapsed since the fall of Lexington
— for two weeks has secession held high carnival over the spot rendered, sacred by the gallant defence of Mulligan
— for two weeks has it been permitted to rejoice, to fortify, to recover its breath — and as yet nothing more has been done than to transport an army to this point, which, in point of time and difficulty of travel, is not half way to Lexington
If two weeks are required to get a sufficient force to this point, how long will it take to get that same force over the balance of the route?
I believe that General Fremont
is a hard worker; he labors incessantly to promote the cause in which he is engaged; he leaves nothing undone that can be done by personal effort, or advanced by personal sacrifice; yet, in spite of all this, things seem to advance with supernatural slowness.
Never seemed there motions before, which looked so exactly like rest; but possibly, in view of the gigantic task before the national troops, it is well that nothing should be done hastily — that nothing should be adventured prematurely.
When one reviews the course of General Lyon
--sees him routing secession from two distant and important points in less than a week — the rapidity of his march in the hottest months of summer from Booneville
— the wind-like velocity with which he swooped upon Forsyth
, Dug Springs
, and Curran
— his omnipresence, his untiring vigilance, the facility with which he clapped an extinguisher upon every blaze of treason that broke out in or near the scene of his operations; when one remembers all this, he cannot but at least contrast the light, effectual movements of then with the ponderous slowness of those of to-day.
May it not be that Gen. Fremont
is too much embarrassed with the etiquette of war — with a cumbrous, unwieldily staff — with the panoply and externals of conflict?
There may be use of private secretaries of private secretaries of private secretaries
--of certain ceremonies, headquarters approachable through a pathway lined be glittering swords, bands making the air sick in languishing with the stirring music of silver instruments, red-tape formalities, and a thousand other similar things and operations; but yet their effect, although brilliant to friend and observer, is of doubtful utility upon the ragged Secessionists, who hide themselves and their shot guns behind every bush in Northern Missouri
If our foe was a polite one, his appreciation might be moved, his loyalty excited, by witnessing the gallant efforts made on his account, were he to see the magnificent trappings and caparisons, hear the beautiful music, watch the admirable evolutions.
But, unfortunately, our Secession friend is an unkempt blackguard — wrapped in the contemplation of "treasons, stratagems, and spoils." His soul has no appreciation for the beautiful music of Hungarian airs, poured upon the resonant and delighted air from costly silver instruments.
Clad in a shirt innocent of soap and water, he appreciates not at all the gilded trappings of our gallant array; sneaking in the recesses of the dim woods, and coolly priming his old flint-lock rifle, he cares absolutely nothing for the gleam of beautiful muskets, the clank of heavy sabres, or the intricate deadliness of improved revolvers.
To him, Lyon
, with his old white hat, his stern countenance, his common every-day soldiers, was a dreaded reality — they feared him in life and respected him in death.
One long roll from his battered old drums carried a more wholesome terror into the hearts of secession than will a thousand airs from Norma, born under the breath and manipulations of skillful Teutonic artistes.
They knew he was never fettered by formalities, and only found courage to attack him when confident in the strength of an overwhelming force.
But it is to be hoped that ere long Gen. Fremont
will demonstrate that, in spite of all these apparent drawbacks, he is competent to the position he has undertaken to fill — and thus at once satisfy the earnest hopes of the country, and make good his own assertion to that effect.
The arrival of troops at this point is about the only event of importance.
There are now here some ten thousand men, while probably from fifteen to twenty thousand more have gone forward, and are now located at Booneville
, Lamine Bridge, and Sedalia
This force is, in all respects, the flower of Western troops.
It includes some 2,500 cavalry, a formidable force of rifled and other artillery, and infantry armed in many cases with Colt
's revolving rifles, sword bayonets, and other modern improvements.
In addition to this, the material — the baggage, clothing, tents, &c.--is of a first-class character; rendering the present force in all respects one of the most efficient ever organized in the East or West.
Whether the results to be accomplished will be important in proportion to this, is, of course, a question of time--one that will probably meet with solution some time within the next two or three weeks.
I have no doubt as to the efficiency of the organization now being constructed to war with secession.
The troops of the enemy are all mounted — they move from point to point with incredible celerity.
At the appearance of an equal or superior force, they scatter in a few hours in every direction, and in an equally short space of time concentrate at points miles away.
Their agents extend to every point of the State
--they know all our plans, and are able, at any moment, to hurl immense forces upon a point not sufficiently protected, but whose apparent remoteness from danger has been thought its security.
Fighting under no rule, taking the ambuscade and shot-gun in preference to the open plain and the bayonet or cannon; Indians in attack, cavalry in retreat; present always when least expected, yet never found when hunted for, they are a peculiar, a subtle, dangerous foe, and one which requires different treatment from that of any other in the civilized world.
Hence I permit myself to doubt the propriety of warring with them as we would with England
Columns of infantry and the heavy impedimenta
of our troops cannot catch them unless they wish it; and they never wish it, unless satisfied that an immense superiority of numbers will give them an easy victory.
To meet such men we want light cavalry, we want men that can travel as fast as they can, and who, when the moment for action comes, are equally ready to use their sabres as dragoons, or, dismounted, take to the trees and operate as infantry.
We want light artillery, four and six pounders, and only such baggage as may readily be moved from point to point.
When we have more of this force we can reasonably begin to hope upon one that will be able to hunt out and cope successfully with these secession guerillas, that now mock our efforts to bring them to a fair battle.
A gun-boat, built at St. Louis
and designed to proceed up the river and clear out the masked batteries supposed to be located this side of Lexington
, has not arrived as far as here yet; and probably, owing to her immense weight and great draught, will be unable to ascend at all. The plan of making a ball-proof boat, and loading her with heavy artillery to clear the Missouri
of batteries, was a capital one--its only drawback is, that it can't be made practicable.
She is yet in St. Louis
, I believe, a model of immense strength and terrible destructive power; but at present is of no further use than to afford her friends the dubious satisfaction of thinking that she might do fearful execution if only able to get in the right position.
However, if St. Louis
be attacked, the New Era
would be found to be of immense utility.
Yesterday all the commissioned officers who were captured at Lexington
, with the exception of Col. Mulligan
, reached this point under escort of Capt. Champion
, of the Confederate
They left there the day after I did, and bring no later intelligence from that point than that contained in my last letter.
Some of them state that Gen. Price
unearthed from the fortifications several hundred bombs, which had been buried there by his predecessors in treason, of whose existence the national troops were ignorant.
died to-day of his wounds, and as I write, a military cortege,
with reverse arms, and step in accord with the movements of a solemn dirge, is passing my window to do honor to his remains.
A forward movement on the part of Fremont
, in the direction of Lexington
, is talked of for to- morrow.
The whereabouts of McCulloch
are still as mysterious as ever.
I honestly believe him dead from the effects of a wound received at Springfield