The importance of local organization for defence, to which the Governor
has very seasonably called the attention of the Legislature, is beginning to be appreciated by the people as well as the authorities.
The apathy into which the community was lulled by the battle of Manassas
is beginning to be broken.
It will be recollected that, at the commencement of the war there was a very large organization of men not subject to military duty, known as the Home Guard, which was comparatively well drilled and disciplined, but which afterwards, in consequence of the general indifference, was disbanded.
In forming, therefore, the new force recommended by the Governor
for home defence, we shall nowadays have the advantage of enrolling all males of the city, but of securing a of men, most of whom are already in a degree familiar with military drill discipline.
So far as the numbers and money of its fighting population are earned, Richmond
and the adjoining part Henrico
, which are substantially a part of the city, can turn out quite a respectable day. But this is not all that is necessary, the defence of Richmond
The possession of this city has been the one object heading are souls of the enemy from the being of the war. He looks upon this as his head and heart of the rebellion, and believes firmly that a blow struck here would be fatal.
We need not point out the fallacy of that delusion.
It is enough that such is his convictions, and that the capture of Richmond
would unquestionably be an immense disaster, one that would cripple our own energies and damage our cause almost irreparably in Europe
The people, then, of this city, who are ready to a man to lay down their lives in the public defence, and the whole nation, which has such vast interests concentrated at this point, have a right to demand that every avenue of approach to the capital be efficiently guarded, and not left, like Hatteras, and Pott Royal, and Roanoke Island
, to the protection of a few miserable earthworks, without proper bomb-proof defences, or means of arresting a hostile fleet.
There are duties of the Government
to the people as well as of the people to the Government
, and, both must be up to the mark, or defeat, disaster, and ruin are inevitable.
The war has thus far shown us where our strength has and where our weakness.
The enemy has been able to accomplish no great results on land; but, with the exception of Pensacola
, he has not failed in reaching us at every point accessible to vessels which he has attempted.
We, therefore, call attention once more to the water avenues approaching Richmond
, and should like to know whether they have all been placed in such a state of defence as the exigency demands; whether there is a sufficient number of powerful forts on each, provided with bomb-proof shelters, and armed with the right kind of guns?
If such is the case, then the Government
, which has had the most ample time for such preparation, and been warned by the inefficiency of the miserable works at Hatteras
and Port Royal
, in competition with the enemy's powerful gunboats, has a right to demand corresponding efforts on the part of those whose interests are thus protected.
A system of home defence should also embrace lines of fortifications around the capital, commanding all the approaches to it, whether by land or water, and located not only by engineering skill, but by engineers familiar from long residence with the whole character of the country.
No time should be lost in making the present fortification as strong as those which surround.
, and in constructing others which shall combine all the improvements in this kind of defence.
Now is the time; now, when the state of the weather has given us a temporary respite — now is the time, not only to call out the whole male force of our cities, but, above all, to construct fortifications for the city defence.--The whole white
population of the capital and its environs ought to be employed upon this work without a moment's delay.