Prudence of the press.
The prudence and discretion of the Confederate
press in general during the present war has been something remarkable.
It is true, at the beginning of the contest, when all of us were unused to war, there may have been occasional unguarded statements which were calculated to lead to unfortunate results.
But as soon as the conductors of the public journals became accustomed to the new situation their reticence was remarkable, and in distinguished contrast to the perpetual babbling of the Yankee
journals, which, down to the present hour, indulge an irresistible propensity to let the world know what their Generals
intend to do. But it is almost as important to the interests of a country that its journals should be cautions in their comments upon the past as their speculations of the future.
A notable illustration of this has been furnished of late by the New York Herald
That would-be Thunderer of the Yankee
press for once managed to hold its tongue while Kilpatrick
's murdering expedition was in preparation; but when the raid had got fairly started the Herald
could no longer contain itself, but, complimenting its marvellous secretiveness in forbearing to tell all it knew while such disclosures would be injurious, announced that it could now, without danger, reveal the fact that the object of the expedition was the capture and sack of Richmond
Little did the canny Scot of the Herald
imagine that in that bold confession he was putting beyond dispute the damaging documents found on the dead body of Dahlgren
, and which he had reason to suppose would never see the light.
If the raid had been successful, the atrocities committed here would have been apologized for on the ground that the officers were unable to restrain the troops; if successful, nothing, it was supposed, would ever be heard of the papers of the expedition.
But, unluckily for the Yankees
, the documents were found, and now, when their mouthpiece, the Herald,
would pronounce them a Confederate forgery, it has spiked its own guns by its own imprudent and boastful declaration of the purposes of Kilpatrick
The Confederate press, with all its caution, has not yet seen the danger of publishing statements and comments upon events which have transpired, especially in regard to the numbers engaged on our side in battles and combats.
It is natural that correspondents and others should desire to crown with laurels those heroes who gain victories against three times their numbers; but it is the obvious dictate of prudence to let the enemy remain in the dark as to our actual strength, and draw his own conclusions from results.
Otherwise, in order to obtain a knowledge of our numbers, he has only to make a demonstration, retire, and await the announcement by our own journals of the exact number in his front.
He can then repeat the experiment with a force large enough to overwhelm all resistance.
In regard to the defences of Richmond
, it has been stated that, but for the fire of Major Henley
's battalion, they would have entered the city.
It is perhaps fortunate for us that the enemy's spies, of whom there are no doubt scores in this city, have probably given him by this time more accurate information, and that he is sure that if Henley
's battalion had been driven back he would have run upon a succession of snags, which would have sent him in double-quick time to the bottom.
We apprehend, however, no injury from this direction now, if it should tempt him to repeat the experiment.
But to say nothing of the numbers by which our victories are accomplished.
Let him console himself, if he see fit, with the idea that he is defeated by overwhelming numbers.
The great object is to defeat him, and the accomplishment of that ought to satisfy us for the present.