previous next


Our defensive policy.

If the South is pleased with the defensive policy, there is certainly one point of agreement at any rate between the belligerents — The North approve it heartily. That section has the rare and agreeale excitement of being at war and at peace at the same moment. It has not heard in all its borders from the beginning of this conflict one hostile gun, it has never known an evil of war save its financial embarrasements. Its fields are safe from the tramp of hostile squandrons; its firesides are never quenched in blood; its dwelings and towns do not light the sky with fearful conflagrations; its women and children are not in fear of being shelled out of their houses or of suffering barbarities worse than death. They enjoy the luxury of reading, in their comfortable parlors, accounts of the inflictions of these calamities upon the people of the Southern Confederacy, with no such uncomfortable drawback as the faintest dream of retaliations upon themselves. They are, therefore, in the vein to cheer on the war beands with the most enthusiastic alacrity, and to enjoy the gaieties of life with even more than ordinary gusto. We are not, therefore, surprised to see brilliant accounte of the splendor of Presidential levees in Washington, and the roystering fun and frolic of the New York Park. There is a charming exhilaration in the sport of throwing stones at the frogs in a pond, who, unhappy creatures, have not the ability to reciprocate the compliment. The more pusillanimous a race, the more delightful is a combat in which there are Hows to give and none whatever to take.

We may fancy in our ignorance and blindness that war to be effective must be aggressive as well as defensive, and that the best way to overcome an antagonist is not merely to parry his blows. In all encounters between men and man, and in all other wars that we have ever heard of, such a thing as striking back is considered not only honorable, but expedient. Whether such a process will excite an enemy to fresh indignation, does not usually enter into the calculation of fighting men, and, if it did, it is a question which must depend upon the character of the adversary. Without derogating from the martial capabilities of the Northern people, we incline to the opinion that an agressive warfare against them would stir up quite as much apprehension as rage, and that they infinitely prefer a kind of warfare in which they read of battles in newspapers, and have nothing to do with them personally. They boast that they have now in the field an army of seven hundred thousand men, raised almost entirely since the period when it became evident that this war was to be on the part of the South strictly defensive. Whether that number has been raised or not, it is certain that they have placed in the field all who are willing to go and have exhausted their exchequer in efforts to carry on the war. Their spirit and their energies have risen in proportion to the immunity of their own soils and homes from danger. Their newspapers have been more belligerent, and their politicians more truenlent, as they have discovered that the hostile foot of the South is not to be planted on their own territory. If they had the means, they would carry on the war at least as long as Great Britain carried on the war against the American colonies for Great Britain herself was not more secure from an American invasion in the Revolution than the Norht is from the South in the present contest.

We trust that with the opening of the spring campaign the enemy will be made to feel fast there are blows to take in this contest as well as blows to give. We have given the defensive plan a fair trial, and have seen its results. A larger number of our gallant soldiers have perished by disease in camp and hospital then we could have lost by a march from the battle field of Manassas to the city of Philadelphia. Hernceforth, we must make up our minds that this is war, and that for every drop of Southern blood which has been shed, and for every hour our soil has been polluted by the footsteps of invasion, we will have compound interest in laying waste every accessible foot of Northern territory with fire and sword.

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.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
England (United Kingdom) (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: