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A Review of the situation,The profitless waste of blood and treasure that is caused by the American civil war is again attracting the attention of European statesmen, and the necessity of some immediate step in the direction of mediation of a peaceful kind is being urged upon them in the name of humanity and civilization,--France, to her credit, is again taking the lead in this matter. We transferred to our columns two days since an eloquent article from the Constitutional on this subject. This has been followed by a hint in another semi-official paper, to the effect that a joint proposal of mediation by France and England in the American quarrel might be shortly expected. We should welcome this news with eagerness did we suppose it reliable. We are sure that the Southern Government, which all along has deprecated hostilities, and resorted to arms in the assertion of its independence only and of the constitutional right of State sovereignty, would most willingly accept such an offer. For the North, however unwilling it might have been to allow of interference, even so much as the expression of an opinion by a foreign Power, at a time when they felt sure of being able to reduce to submission in a few months the men whom they look upon as rebels, they must surely be too glad to find any opportunity of honorably retiring from the embarrassing position in which they now find themselves, after the squandering of so many millions of money in an enterprise which every day shows to be more and more hopeless. The utter incompatibility of feeling, the irreconcilable dred, we might say, between North and South, is becoming more apparent than ever in the episodes of this cruel war, which bids fair to become shortly a war of extermination of both sides. Meanwhile, we cannot discover that the invaders are advancing one step in their scheme of conquest. The Confederate Generals at Corinth had no doubt done wisely in retiring from the lines in the neighborhood of the Mississippi. Large bodies of troops having been withdrawn to reinforce the army in Virginia, the army has evacuated Corinth for a station called Okolona, on the Mobile and Ohio Railway, 67 miles south of Corinth.--Here they are flauked by swamps and shallow rivers; and it is doubtful whether the enemy will venture to follow them, at all events in this season. According to the New York Herald, ‘"No news of great interest need be looked for from this quarter for some time."’ For the present all eyes are turned to the campaign in Virginia and the issue of the struggle at Richmond. The sudden diversion occasioned by the vigorous action of the Confederate army beyond the Allegheny Mountains seems likely to effect a material change in the conduct of the civil war in Virginia. The conception of the Southern leaders was good, its execution better. It will be remembered that rather more than a year ago the Federal capital, which the seceders claim as belonging of right to the South, was threatened by the advance of a powerful Confederate army, which occupied the heights of Alexandria, on the opposite side of the Potomac. The battle of Manassas seemed at first to have left Washington at the mercy of the conquerors, but the Confederates prudently abstained from following up that victory by an advance into Maryland. As soon as they had sufficiently strengthened Washington, the Federals began to make diversions in the rear of their opponents, in the shape of a series of inroads on the exposed coast line of the Carolinas and the Gulf States. But still McClellan, with a mighty host, sat still in front of Washington, till, on a sudden, it appeared one day that the Confederate army, tired of waiting for him, had cleared off with bag and baggage to the country between the Rappahannock and the capital of Virginia. Perhaps the Confederate Generals supposed that if they left Washington alone, the Federals on their part would keep their hands off Richmond. But General McClellan, having been totally inactive for nine or ten months, was of opinion that it was time to bestir himself and take some part in the war.--Accordingly, he shipped off a large portion of lds force to the vicinity of Portress Monroe, leaving McDowell, with a comparatively small army, to guard the Rappahannock. By the aid of the gunboats on the James and York rivers, he fought his way along the Yorktown peninsula, the Confederate army retreating before him till it had passed the Chickahominy, when it made a stand under the walls of Richmond. Now, it is clear that this Confederate army is being pressed, very closely, so that, if we look only at Beauregard and McClellan, the opposing Generals here, we should say that the fate of Richmond was hanging in the balance. The latter had crossed at Bottom's Bridge and at New Bridge, but instead of attacking the town from the southeast, as these movements seemed to indicate, he seems to have been moving towards the north, for we hear of his advanced guard having captured a station on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railway, and of the army being now within five miles of the Southern capital. The Confederates are still said to out number their assailants, and the besiegers talk of going into trenches and waiting for the arrival of batteries of Parrott guns. But, if Richmond, after all, is to be attacked from the north, why, it may be asked, did McClellan go out of his way to approach it by way of Yorktown? It is as if a native of Bath or Bristol, by way of going to London, should journey by sea to Dover, and thence work his way along the line of the South eastern Railway. It may be said that the southern side of Richmond was unguarded, Johnston and Lee being then to the north of it. These Generals were too quick for the assailant. By the time he had taken Yorktown he found them posted between him and Richmond. It may be argued, also, that by this line of strategy the Confederates have been cut off from their basis of operations at Yorktown and Norfolk. But it was not the army, it was the fleet that took these places. And the communications of Richmond with the south by Petersburg, and with the west by Lynchburg, are still open. We suppose that for some reason or other McClellan was baulked in his attempt to take the place from the south. On that side the town is naturally defended, partly by a swamp and jungle. partly by hills, which are susceptible of being strongly fortified. Accordingly he is moving towards the north, with the view, no doubt, of effecting a junction with McDowell on the Fredericksburg railway, so as to outnumber the host that is arrayed under the standard of the gallant Beauregard in defence of the honored capital of the Old Dominion. Thus far the progress of McClellan. We see clearly how important it must be to the South to prevent his junction with McDowell. We think we may say that this reinforcement of the Federal army has been effectually prevented for the present, so that if Beauregard decides to hold Richmond, he will be able to do so for some time to come. Before the arrival of the last mail no one here had over hazarded a guess as to the way in which this necessary diversion could be effected. Now that it has been done, it strikes us like a new idea. The Confederates have once more put Washington in danger. When, a few months since, they ceased to threaten Washington, McClellan attacked Richmond; were they once more advancing towards it, he would wish himself anywhere rather than behind the Chickahominy. The Federals in Virginia form a long line, of which McClellan forms the left wing, McDowell the centre, and Banks, who was beyond the Alleghenies, the right wing. The left, as we know, has been pushing on. On his side, the ‘"lawyer General"’ Banks has been moving along the Valley of the Shenandoah. McDowell, having reached Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock, stood still. The success of the operations of this vast army depended, of course, on the integrity of each portion of the long line which we have indicated. But, for a time, the right wing was driven back, and the whole line turned. For some reason or other a part of Banks troops were withdrawn to reinforce McDowell. The Confederates were not slow to take advantage of this fatal blunder. Banks army was driven from its position, retreating in the face of a force scarcely superior to itself in numbers, and ill provided with guns. The advanced guard was first driven from Front Royal, Next, the main division, under Banks, was engaged and utterly routed at Winchester. The loss of the Federalism this occasion appears to have been very great. Thanks retreated in haste from Winchester to Martinsburg, and seems never to have looked behind him till he got across the Potomac at Williamsport, a place about 15 miles to the North of Harper's Ferry. The complacent manner in which Mr. Banks narrated to Secretary Stanton this disastrous history of his having lost in two days as much as he had gained in two months, was positively pitiable.
Simple Reflections.The American situation has arrived at a point where it would be well that the sincerely patriotic voices should be raised for the purpose of imposing silence on the passion of party, and calling the nation to the calm examination of the prospect before it. From the triple point of view — military, financial, and political — the march of events is of a nature to inspire anxiety rather than confidence.--The desired end seems more distant every day; sacrifices are accumulating; embarrassment are augmenting and the difficulties of the future disclose proportions beside which those of the past are as nothing. New complications arise each day, and like the entrenchments of the Confederates, new obstacles reveal themselves behind those which are overcome. The eighty days which Mr. Seward demanded on the 30th of November, 1861, to annihilate occasion, have more than doubled, and far from the promised result being attained, the perspective has clouded instead of clearing up; for the advantages gained have only served to reveal the extent of what yet remains to be done. The desired end itself has ceased to be very distinct when we consider the circumstances which make in construction a task much more arduous, and, indeed, much more problematical than was at first anticipated. In this situation, we repeat, there is a duty to be fulfilled to the people, other than that of encouraging them in flattering illusions off magnifying the victories — of extenuating the reverses — of the blunders — and of blindly approving everything that is done. system has already produced sufficient evil, that it is high time that it should be abandoned and the people placed face to face with the real truth Unfortunately, the saying this has become so thankless a task, that those most convinced of its necessity shrink before the denunciations of the temporary unpopularity which they would have confront. The American political education, boasted of, appears to have formed a very all number of men capable of comprehending that the real way of serving one's country is not always to follow the current of public opinion, but rather to refuse, courageously, to err with it — even at the risk of displeasing it. The right of free speech is now monopolized almost exclusively by the organs of the party of extreme measures, and it now and then, a voice is raised in opposition, is immediately imposed upon it by moral intimidation, if not, by material oppression. This is but one danger the more added to all those by which the American nation finds itself surrounded. We should probably be correct in saying that it is the greatest of all, for there is no worse condition for a people than for it to be marching in a path when the light is obscure, and when, so to speak, it does not plainly see the spot on which it sets its foot. More than one traveler has perished from having followed a read, at each turn of which he expected to find an exhausting himself in effort after effort against continued obstacles, and finally falling, his worn, out, at the foot of an insurmountable We do not say that this will be the fate reserved for the American nation; but we do dare to say that the moment is come for it to look fairly where it is going and what road it is following. To induce it to take its situation into consideration it would hardly be necessary to recall to it what it has so often said in past times about analogous events which were happening in other countries. During the long years of its easy and dazzling prosperity it has frequently had occasion to be a spectator of revolutionary convulsions which agitated certain countries in Europe. It condemned with unreserved vehemence the policy of oppression, the domination of the strong hand, the confiscation of property, the restrictions upon the freedom of the press, the acts of rigor towards rebellious populations, and most especially against the feminine portion of them. It was indignant about the surveillance over strangers, and assumed a tone of menace at the slightest want of respect shown to any of its diplomatic or consular agents. It sustained that to subjugate a people was to enter into a perpetual strife with them, to inaugurate an odious and perpetual tyranny, to purchase an uncertain and fruitless domination at the price of ruinous sacrifices. It claimed for every insurgent nationality the right to be independent and to govern itself in its own way. It demonstrated, in fact, by placing its own example in juxtaposition with that of European nations, that liberty and republicanism needed neither war nor standing armies, nor national debt, nor onerous taxes, nor overwhelming budget. Let it recall to-day these souvenirs of a past which hardly dates farther back than yesterday, apply them to the events which are to-day taking place at home, and draw those conclusions which it is not our business to put into shape.
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