[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
One is surprised and pained, on returning to Charleston
after an absence of twelve months, to find many of the most furious advocates of secession in 1860, as well as many of the most confident and resolute supporters of our holy cause in 1863, now the most querulous, and despondent.
The reverses which have overtaken our arms, and the demoralizing influence of the blockade running trade, have wrought this great change, so that the Charleston
of to-day is no longer the Charleston
of former days.
The "cradle of the rebellion," the "hot-bed of secession," as the Yankees
were wont to designate the town, and as the Charlestonians themselves were glad to have it designated, no longer presents the bold front with which it entered upon the conflict.
I do not mean to insinuate that the people of Charleston
are canvassing the propriety of abandoning the contest and of running up the white flag in place of the Southern Cross
Far from it. I do mean to say, however, that the city abounds with prophets of evil, with croakers, with fault-finders, with speculators who, having amassed large fortunes, are anxious to save them, even if the Confederacy
should fail; and with persons who, the moment a reverse occurs, run up and down the streets, saying to every passerby, "I told you so; the President
should not have done this; the President
should have done that; we must have a change of rulers or we are lost; let us try a dictator." Men who would not stop to count the cost four years ago, and who did more than all others to inaugurate the secession movement, now hint at another revolution!
What a falling off there is here!
The country has the right to expect better things of every man and woman in Charleston
— a city of so much renown, and one which has made so noble a stand against her enemies and her country's enemies.
The country looked to her for an exhibition of calmness in the hour of trial, of fortitude and patience in the presence of danger, and of that sublime repose which is the result of conscious strength and a good cause.
That there should have been more or less despondency and faction in Georgia
, a large portion of whose territory has been overrun and devastated by the public enemy, was to be expected, and especially in view of the amazing fact that the Executive
of South Carolina
refused to allow the militia of the State
to cross Savannah river
at a time when the militia of Georgia
were fighting and winning the battle of Grahamville
; but from Charleston
, so differently situated, we had a right to expect a nobler example.
I write this plainly because I feel a pride in this "city by the sea" and in all that appertains to it. Its past is secure, and I have not the least doubt that its fortitude in the future will be equal to its heroism in the days that are gone.
The croakers and fault- finders, and the whole pernicious brood of timid speculators and traders, as well as the wild revolutionists who would fly from the ills we have to those we know not of, will be frowned down, and the city will hold its even way on the road that leads to independence.
Already a better state of feeling prevails, and the timid begin to evince greater presence of mind.
In a short time, when better counsels shall have prevailed, the city and State will strip for the great fight which is before them, and from which there is no escape.
The struggle will be fierce and bloody, and protracted, and will test the patriotism, self-denial and endurance of the people; but that they will be found equal to the trial there is not the least ground for doubt.
There has been but little change in the military situation for some days.--Sherman
has sent a corps around by water to Beaufort
, and has marched a force across Savannah river
, having his outposts well thrown forward towards Grahamville
The strength of this latter force is not known; but there is, as yet, no authentic information that his main army has left Savannah
A winter campaign is practicable in this latitude, but thus far I have seen no cause to look for an immediate advance by the enemy.
Time is necessary, after such a march as that of Sherman
's, to refit, rest, and bring up supplies of food, clothing, ammunition and transportation, before any fresh enterprise can be undertaken with safety.
In any event, there is no reason to believe that an effort will be made to carry the works by which Charleston
is defended by a direct assault.
The attack, it is believed, will rather be made, by the west bank of Savannah river
, against Augusta
, or upon Branchville
In other words, it is believed that the movement will be made against the line of communications between Columbia
, so as, at the same time, to cut off supplies from Lee
's army and take Charleston
in the rear, as in the case of Vicksburg
, and as Grant
sought to do, and still seeks to do, with Petersburg