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SATURDAY, JUNE 7, 1862.
is undoubtedly something humiliating
in reading in
the newspapers that in the month of May, 1862, thirteen months after the
on Sumter, after the North has poured out men and money with unprecedented
lavishness, it has again become necessary to call out the State militia to
defend the capital. Nor is it agreeable to reflect that the rich valley of the
Shenandoah, out of which
General Banks had cleared the rebels by a series of
brilliant manoeuvres, and where we were slowly developing a healthy Union
sentiment, has again been surrendered to the rebels, who will doubtless re-enact
in that populous region all the atrocities of Jacksonville. These are
unquestionably very painful reflections.
It must be said, however, in justification of the military
policy which dictated the transfer of three-fourths of Banks's army to
McDowell, that the President, by whose orders the transfer was made, was far
better able to judge of the necessity for the step than the public can be. If he
had reason to believe that the rebel army in Virginia contemplated an attack
upon McDowell, it would have been criminal negligence to have run the risk of a
defeat at Falmouth, which would have left the road to
Alexandria open to the
enemy. Painful as it is to lose the Shenandoah
Valley, it would have been far.
more painful, more humiliating, nay, almost fatal, to have had
loom up with an army flushed with victory on the bank of the Potomac, opposite
the White House.
The fears which are entertained by Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, and other
persons for the
safety of Washington, under present circumstances, are wholly gratuitous. The
rebels do not
intend to invade Maryland. If any cross the Potomac, they will do so with the
laying down their arms, for they know that
they could never return except as released prisoners
of war. That some of the leaders of the rebellion are ready for any thing
desperate can readily be believed, but they are not quite insane
enough to run their necks deliberately and
hopelessly into a noose.
The object of
the Government in calling out the militia is, doubtless, to liberate the 20,000
troops now under Wadsworth at
Washington, for the purpose of reinforcing Banks
and Fremont. If the step shortens the contest by a few days, it will pay.
Legislature of Virginia have solemnly resolved to defend their capital. Governor
Letcher and "President" Davis have echoed
resolve, and have called every able-bodied man into the field to carry it into
practical effect. Yet we risk little in predicting that by the time this paper
reaches our readers
Richmond will be in possession of
The one great quality which the rebels have developed in this war is
COWARDICE. It has sometimes been moral, and sometimes been physical; it
has been shown in Convention, and it has been seen on the battle-field; it has
been noticed in the leaders and illustrated by
the rank and file. Whatever else the rebels, and especially those in
Virginia, may have been,
they have undoubtedly been cowards.
Little more than a year ago the writer of
these lines met, by appointment, at the room of Mr. Boteler (then a
Member of Congress from Virginia, now an officer in the rebel army), at
Washington, about a dozen members of the Virginia State Convention and one or
two of the Virginia delegation in Congress. His object in seeking a meeting with
these gentlemen was to ascertain the prospect of the secession of Virginia. Mr.
(now Major-General) Banks had predicted in writing that Virginia would secede.
The prophecy, coming from so high a source, was regarded with attention; and
parties who had large interests in Virginia, who owned Virginia bonds and had
large sums at stake in the State, felt some anxiety on the point. The writer of
these lines stated as much to the Virginians who had assembled in Mr. Boteler's
They one and all declared that there was
chance whatever of the secession
their State. They said that there were secessionists in Virginia, such as
Ruffin and Pryor, but that the Union men were in a large majority in the
Convention, and that they would hold their own. A cousin of Senator Mason,
himself a member of the
Convention, criticised severely the tendencies
of his cousin, the Senator, and declared
that the Old Dominion would be loyal in any
event. Another leading member of the Convention
remarked that "Virginia couldn't be
dragged or kicked out of the Union."
Within a very few
days after this interview
Virginia seceded, by ordinance of the very State
Convention in which the Union men had so
large a majority, and the seizure of Norfolk and
followed at once.
The records prove that the gentlemen who vouched for the loyalty of Virginia in
March, 1861, did not misrepresent the facts. There
was a large Union majority in the State Convention, and the sentiment of
the State was emphatically against secession. As a people, the Virginians were
decidedly opposed to being dragged at the tail of South Carolina into a wild
The secret of the sudden somersault of the Convention, and the remarkable
acquiescence of the people in their decision was simply cowardice.
It was the coercion of the Richmond mob, led on by crazy ruffians like Pryor and
his fellows, which caused the Convention to pass the Act of Secession. The Union
men had not courage enough to stand by their principles. There was not nerve
enough in Virginia to withstand the brawling and the threats of a few hundred
desperadoes. Whether the race had deteriorated like the soil, whether the
business of slave-breeding had corroded the manly instincts of the people, or
whatever the cause was, the fact was palpable—theVirginian people, in April,
1861, had not courage enough to stand by their flag, and basely surrendered to a
handful of miscreants
whom they might and should have hanged on the first tree.
They have had their reward. Virginia has learned by this time that courage, like
honesty, is generally the best policy.
telegraphs that the
the Louisiana Tigers." We fancy we shall have some more dispatches of this
These Southern bravoes, who call themselves "Tigers," and "Lions," and
"Grave-diggers," and "Yankee-slayers;" who carry black flags, and refuse quarter
to unarmed men; who dig up the corpses of our dead soldiers, and send
their bones home to their lady loves as trophies—these creatures, who are
a speaking illustration of the
brutalizing effect of the institutions among which they have been reared,
and whose savage instincts would appall the most ferocious native of Dahomey or
Patagonia—these fellows can never withstand the onset of a Christian soldiery.
They are capable. of assassinating
a Union man, or of whipping a black woman to death; but when it comes to
standing up in a fair fight against Northern men, in any thing like equal
numbers, they run like hares. Brutality and manhood can no more coexist in the
same individual than oil and water can mingle.
We are not sorry to hear that the "Louisiana Tigers" are "about finished." It is
about time that some other of these Southern regiments, which have desolated the
South and done their best to destroy the nation, were "about finished" too. A
gentleman from Tennessee reports that in certain neighborhoods the rebel
soldiers have not only destroyed crops and fences, but have wantonly torn down
houses and barns, burned every thing that would burn, and so thoroughly
obliterated every vestige of improvement from the land, that the wretched owners
who are now returning to their homes, under cover of our flag, experience some
difficulty in discovering whereabouts their houses stood. Others tell still more
fearful stories of outrages—outrages nameless and horrible; of whole districts
in which not a woman or a girl has escaped the fiendish brutality of the Texans
and Louisianians. It is about time, in the name of God and humanity, that the
authors of these atrocities should be "finished."
President Lincoln left his home in Illinois
to go to Washington, he said to his neighbors
that he was about to undertake a
harder task than
any President had encountered since Washington.
History will add that he disposed of it with a
wisdom and moderation unequaled since Washington.
Recent events have brought into strong relief one peculiar aspect of the
difficulties of his position. Mr. Lincoln was elected, as all our Presidents
are, as the representative of certain views—namely, the constitutional
upon his election a part of the defeated party, living in a certain
section of the country, rose in arms and awaited the assistance of their
fellow-partisans in other parts of the country. But those friends were political
allies under the Constitution, not military allies to overthrow it, and with men
of all parties they rallied directly to the defense of the Government. Of course
their views upon slavery, and its limitation, and
the proper method of dealing with it, may have been
changed by the revelations and suggestions of the rebellion, or they may
have remained the same. But as to
the duty of maintaining the Government they were entirely of accord with
the party that had elected the President.
Meanwhile the Abolitionists, a body who have
conducted the anti-slavery movement upon moral grounds merely, and who
had utterly repudiated political action of every kind, appeared as strong Union
men, supporting the Government. Their reason was, that slavery having provoked a
war might justly be smitten by military law. The case seemed to them as simple
as could be, and they
stated it with all their eloquence and fervor.
Many, also, who were not in the technical and historic sense Abolitionists,
thought at heart the same
thing: "This is the time to hit slavery and make an
end of it."
The duty of the President was perfectly plain. Clothed by the Constitution with
the authority to invoke military
power, and made by it Commander-in-Chief, he was to use that power and
every thing which goes with it, to secure by arms, and
by every means by which he could weaken the enemy, cutting off their
supplies and starving them included, to force them to abandon their assault upon
the existence of the Government and the peace and integrity of the nation. If it
were necessary to that end that a city or ten cities should
be bombarded and left in ashes, that the lives of a
thousand or ten thousand revolted citizens should be taken by shot and
shell as they were taking those of loyal men, that obstructions should be placed
in harbors, that buildings should be destroyed and fields wasted, that grain and
animals should be seized, and slaves compelled to work and fight against the
Government should be released from all obligation to their masters, then these
things, God and mankind being his witness
for the purity of his intentions and his strict obedience to the
conditions necessary to save civil society from worse woes than these, the
President was constitutionally
empowered and bound to do.
If still the rebellion raged, and there were four million of enslaved persons
who were within the enemy's lines,
who were at heart our friends, and
whom no crime but the most pitiful misfortune had thrown into slavery,
after due warning that every means
at repression would be tried, and this alone
remained, the President was constitutionally bound
and empowered by the authority that enabled him to appeal to war, to
summon these men to strike with all
the rest for the Government—and that he might do so, to declare them
their own masters.
To every man who knew, as every one does who
knows the history of this rebellion, that it was the logical and inevitable
result of slavery, this measure was almost as important as the restoration of
the Government, because to suppress the conspiracy
and leave the cause untouched was merely to knock
the blossoms off a tree. But the President's duty was to bear steadily in mind
that the object of the war was not
emancipation; that the very fact of
his being President showed that the constitutional
majority of his fellow-citizens believed the slavery
question could be settled otherwise than by arms. He was to bear in mind that
all laws, state and national, were wisely suspended by war only so far
as was absolutely necessary; that there was little real sympathy for the slaves;
that it was essential to maintain a resistance to secession in the Border
Slave States; that the very pivot of our system was the harmony of state
and national rights; that the
legality of slavery was purely local, and that it could be touched by the
military hand only from clear military necessity, while to strike it before the
nation felt that it was a necessity would imperil not only the Government and
the emancipation of slaves, but the liberty of every man and the
hope of civil society upon this continent.
He has not failed. He has never for a moment forgotten or obscured the issue.
Believing, as he doubtless does, that slavery began the war, and that the war
will end slavery, he sees that in the conduct of the war itself the treatment of
slavery is but an episode, like
every other means of reducing the rebellion; and if he strikes it at last
it will be because he is convinced, not that slavery can
not be destroyed, but that the nation is persuaded that the war can not
be ended without it.
And whether the war can be ended or not without
ending slavery, the President undoubtedly
knows, for he is peculiarly a man of common sense,
that there will be no permanent peace in this country
until slavery is in clear course of extinction.
If statesmanship be enlightened common sense applied to the management of
public affairs, William Pitt was
not a greater statesman than Abraham Lincoln.
THIS Government is suppressing the armed effort
of a faction to overthrow it. Any terms short of absolute surrender of the
insurgents are therefore the victory of the rebellion. Intervention means
either the proposing of conditions, which is a proposition
to the Government to acknowledge itself overthrown; or it means forcible
assistance of the rebels, which is war and not intervention.
Consequently the question to ask is not whether
ally foreign power is likely to intervene in our difficulty,
but what will any such power gain by making war upon the United States?
Obviously a second-rate nation is less to be feared by a great state than an
equal power, but if the equal power is distant and friendly, and the two are
related by a mutually advantageous commerce, the abstraction that a state is a
rival is not a sufficient provocative to the risks of war.
Or what commercial advantage is gained by a war? A year ago we said in this
column what every man of sense saw, that the rebellion would
teach England and every country that looked to us
for cotton how uncertain the supply must be which
depended upon forced labor. The London Times says on the 3d of May: "We
do wish to liberate ourselves from
dependence on a single slaveholdirg country for the staple material of
our manufactures." Now if England passes this year without her
usual supply from this country she has passed the critical point. But how
is she to be more surely supplied this year by making war? We shall have every
cotton port defended by iron ships. How soon is England likely to feed starving
Lancashire if she makes war for cotton under those conditions?
If political jealousy and industrial necessity do not drive any foreign state to
declare war against us, what
inducement can the rebels offer to those states to run the risk? The
great and only offer they can make is free trade. But is the trade of the
States more valuable to either England or France than that of the Free States?
is said to have made this proposition of free trade to M. Thouvenel. "But we
shall take more cotton," said the minister, "than you take silks; how shall we
pay you?" "The laws of trade must
have their course," replied the astute Yancey, "and you can send us the
specie." "Tiens!" answered the minister, "that is not our way of doing business.
Besides, I am told, Monsieur, that in the Northern States the domestics wear
silk dresses, and parasols, and bonnets; but I learn that the domestics of the
South do not wear silk. Have you any other advantage to mention?"
Se non e vero, e ben trovato. It is well invented,
certainly, and when we remember that the amiable
Yancey (who, Parson Brownlow told us, was, in
other and happier days, pardoned out of the South
Carolina state-prison, where be had been placed
for murdering his uncle) returned to New Orleans
and told his anxious fellow-conspirators and their dupes that cotton was not
king, we may be very sure that he has relinquished all hope of foreign aid.
If any foreign state declares hostilities against the
United States, it opens the tragedy of universal war, and the most timid may be
very sure that John Bull and Johnny Crapeau will both look very
sharply at what they are likely to lose as well as to win in the event of a
general shaking up of nations.
Mr. Stanton was called to the War Department his first official act, the
issue of a congratulatory address to the army at
Mill Spring, was hailed almost
like a victory. At last, cried all the papers, we have energy and intelligence
in the War Office. With every order and proclamation
the applause increased until the famous letter which attributed victory
to the spirit of the Lord rather than to well-served artillery. But when this
was presently followed by the regulation regarding the publication of war news,
the papers changed their tone, and
the energy and intelligence of the Secretary of War are praised no
Yet there can be no question of the wisdom of such an order. The present writer
is a newspaper writer, and he may therefore say that, in the first
place, newspaper correspondents at the seat of war are good fellows, but
they are not such discreet
gentlemen that they are sure to say only what they should say; and, in
the second place, it is an immense relief to the country to know that all the
news which it receives from the armies in the field
is not inference, nor surmise, nor rumor, but settled fact. And the order
is fully justified by this security.
General Halleck's order excluding correspondents from his lines—it is,
and must be, and ought to be within his discretion. For it should
be constantly understood that when we go to war
we accept the conditions of war; and absolute free discussion and
publication of every subject are incompatible with it. They belong to a
civilization which has generally outgrown war; and when it is forced to recur to
it, it is equally compelled to abridge those liberties.
Since the Government has taken the telegraph
for war news into its own hands, the papers, in that department at least,
have become newspapers. In other departments we are still at the mercy of as
many wild speculations as there are correspondents; and every morning every
question is telegraphed as settled
or to be settled in exactly different ways. And no skillful reader of
newspapers thinks of believing any thing he sees until there is some kind of
authorized statement. He knows, for instance, that the Times will always put the
most resolutely cheerful aspect upon every event or rumor; he knows that the
Herald will always declare that "the radicals," meaning those who think that
slavery is neither good principle nor policy, are trying to aid
Jeff Davis; and
that the Tribune will always speak very coolly of General McClellan.
Yet we all know now, that when any of those papers mention a fact from the seat
of war it is a fact. Nobody doubted that the Monitor had beaten back the
Merrimac, or that Yorktown was evacuated; and if at any moment the authorized
news comes that Richmond has fallen, we shah not wonder if it be really
so. Meanwhile the "rumor in town" that it has fallen is entirely unimportant.
And what harm has this supervision of military news done?
Correspondents are allowed to write what they please afterward. Ought they, or
we, or the editors to complain if they are not permitted to mention the number
of troops, the artillery force, the
route to be pursued, and the intentions of the campaign? To say that the
enemy knows all about it, whether we print it or not, is utter folly, for it
begs the question. Do we know all about the rebel force and plan? Did we
know exactly the dimensions and armament and arrangement of the Merrimac? Would
J. Davis not have been a greater fool than we believe him to be if he had
allowed the Norfolk Day-Book to
print all such details? Did he not, doubtlessly, and wisely, say, "the
enemy may find out if they can, I certainly shall not tell them?"
If the Secretary of War shall have no more serious sin to answer for than
supervising the transmission of military news he will be a fortunate man.
ONE of the bravest acts of the war was recently
Hilton head. Eight contrabands
brought out the rebel steamer
Charleston harbor. Commander Parrott has the indiscretion to
call the chattel who commanded her "a very intelligent contraband." The vessel
had one 32-pounder and one 24-pound
howitzer, and had on board four large guns which she was transporting.
"At four in the morning," says
Commodore Dupont in his report, "in the absence
of the Captain, who was on shore, she left her wharf, close to the Government
office and head-quarters, with the Palmetto and Confederate flags flying, passed
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