previous next

The crisis and its demands upon us.

The next fortnight will in all probability witness a series of important battles in Kentucky, and along the line of the Mississippi.--The fortunes of war are proverbially uncertain. A more accident may convert victory into Defant; the loss of a single man may loss a battle. Much depends upon the courage and steadiness of troops, much upon the forethought and address of Generals; but after all a great deal depends upon accident and chance. The leading feature of the war in which we are engaged is the fact that the troops on both sides are raw and inexperienced. Few on either side have been under fire, and a defeat is more than apt to prove a disaster to one or the other side.

There is no doubt of the fact, too, that the enemy outnumbers us in Kentucky, and they have a great advantage over us in the quality of their arms. Unless we can get at them with the bayonet, this disparity in arms is greater than we have any conception of. We believe that the superior prowess and endurance of our soldiers more than compensate these disadvantages; but an untoward accident or unlucky chance may happen to the most brave and resolute, and throw them into panic.

It becomes us, therefore, to be prepared for unfavorable news, as well as good. We can not expect to fight through a war, of the proportions of this one, with uninterrupted success. It is well to cherish confidence in our star, but not to an extent to incapacitate us for enduring reverse and discomfiture. An occasional defeat even conduces to our permanent triumph, by nerving us to duty and teaching that reliance upon exertion, which we are too apt to lose amid continued success.

We do not anticipate misfortune in Kentucky; but inasmuch as reverses may happen to all, it is meet that we should contemplate the possibility of their occurrence in our case. War is at best a lottery, in which there are many blanks and few prizes; and it would be as unphilosophical as unmanly to so exalt our imagination with expectations of fortune as to be unable to encounter disappointment with composure. The safest sentiment in times of war is that of constant wariness and apprehension. The most fatal blunder into which a combatant can fall is that of depreciating an adversary, and treating lightly and with in difference a serious crisis. If the South were but thoroughly alarmed for her safety, she would be absolutely unconquerable. We spoke the other day of the wholesome effect upon the enemy of the battle of Manassas; the effect upon ourselves has been as injurious to our cause as upon the enemy it was beneficial, by relieving us of that salutary alarm which in fact provided the victorious army and gave us the victory. If the enemy should succeed in gaining advantages in Kentucky, unless they put him in positions permanently hurtful to us and impregnable, the result in the end would be favorable to us. We should be roused from the lethargy that has come over us; and we should be startled from the game of busy self-seeking in which we are enlisted into a sense of the necessity of sacrificing more to the common cause.

That it is the interest of the South to fight this war through to the bitter end admits of no doubt. The enormous war debt of the North would crush us entirely if any portion of the taxation it will entail should fall upon the South. The great object of the Yankees now is to get possession of the South, and by wholesale confiscations build up a fund to discharge their debt. They have shown in the past history of this war that in this work of plunder they will pay little regard to the distinctions between Union men and Secessionists. Their object is plunder, and it is property they are after without regard to ownership. Those regions of the South have suffered most severely which have by divisions among their populations invited the enemy in. The fact is that we are all embarked in one adventure upon one bottom, and, whether Unionists or Secessionists, are all to share alike the advantages of success or the woes of subjugation. We are fighting against the tax gatherer and the courts of confiscation; we are fighting for property, independence, and honor.

A few reverses under these circumstances would prove of infinite service to us. They would nerve us to exertion. They would reawaken the fires of patriotism which brought out so many volunteers and so many noble popular contributions last summer. Let us all awaken to a new sense of the necessity for activity and of the duties required of us by the crisis.

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.

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.
Unionists (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: