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service upon the single ground of his advanced years and his many infirmities.
"With the retirement of General Scott," says Mr. Lincoln, in his first annual message to Congress, .66 came the executive duty of appointing in his stead a general-in-chief of the army. It is a fortunate circumstance that neither in council nor country, was there, so far as I know, any difference of opinion as to the proper person to be selected. The retiring chief repeatedly expressed his judgment in favor of General McClellan for the position, and in this the nation seemed to give a unanimous concurrence. The designation of General McClellan is, therefore, in a considerable degree, the selection of the country as well as of the executive; and hence there is better reason to hope there will be given him the confidence and cordial support thus, by fair implication promised, and without which he cannot, with as full efficiency, serve the country."
Pregnant words! upon which the conduct of the President himself was within a few short weeks to furnish a most painful and instructive commentary!
On taking the Command-in-Chief of the Armies of the Union, General McClellan issued a general order, in which, after paying a simple and noble tribute to the merits and the services of the "great soldier of our nation," he made this touching appeal to the army:
"While we regret his loss, there is one thing we cannot regret, the bright example he has left for our emulation. Let us all hope and pray that his declining years may be passed in peace and happiness, and that they may be cheered by the success of the country and the cause he has fought for and has loved so well. Beyond all things, let us do nothing that can cause him to blush for us. Let no defeat of the army he has commanded embitter his last years, but let our victories illuminate the close of a life so grand."
Swords were now voted to the young commander; speeches
were made to him; he was compared in the newspapers to Napoleon the Great. A few words, spoken by him in reply to one of these many assaults upon his modesty and his manhood, completely paint at once the man himself and the true duty of a people towards one whom they have elevated to such a position:
"I ask in the future only forbearance, patience, and confidence. With these we can accomplish all."
GENERAL MCCLELLAN AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.
THE VICTORY OF MANASSAS AT THE SOUTH. PREPARATIONS FOR THE GENERAL ADVANCE OF THE ARMIES OF THE UNION IN THE SPRING. MR. LINCOLN SUPERSEDES GENERAL MCCLELLAN AT THE END OF TWO MONTHS.
It is essential not merely to a just comprehension of the true responsibility of General McClellan for the successes and failures which attended the effort to re-establish the Federal authority by force of arms while he remained in the active service of the Union; but to a fair understanding of the course of events, that we should now briefly consider the way in which military affairs had been administered at Washington during the interval between the nomination of General McClellan to the command of the Army of the Potomac, and the retirement of General Scott.
During these three months the new army of the Union had been organizing; the defenses of Washington had been constructing; and the general character of the military work done had been such as to offer little temptation to mere amateurs. It is only when a fine army stands ready at hand to execute itself and their will that the inspired and uninstructed masters of the art of war take a real pleasure in the exercise of their genius. For the most part, therefore, the military affairs of the United States were directed during the months of August, September and October, 1861, by military men, Lieutenant-General Scott being nominally at the head of the army.
By the 15th of October the total force of troops in and about Washington, including the garrisons of Alexandria and
Baltimore, had been raised to 152,051 men. As these troops had gradually been gathered in from all parts of the country, they had been organized into brigades of four regiments each, and after this organization had been well established into divisions of three brigades each. The organization of the artillery and cavalry necessarily went on more slowly and needed to be still more carefully prosecuted than the organization of the infantry.
As week after week passed by with no decisive demonstrations either on the part of the enemy or on that of the army of the Union, the civilians at headquarters who were impatient of results, and from whose minds the severe lesson of Bull Run was gradually fading out, had begun first to wonder and then to murmur at what they regarded as the "inaction" of the forces. They saw the steady increase in the number of the defenders of the nation, and gliding easily into the error of confounding fullness of the ranks with fitness for service, they gradually fell into their old way of planning brilliant campaigns and demanding decisive measures.
What the educated and competent officers of the army itself thought of this temper growing up around them, and what their judgment was as to the efficiency of the army at this time, was well expressed by General McCall, of Pennsylvania, an officer who afterwards highly distinguished himself in the campaign of the Peninsula.
General McCall was examined by the Congressional committee on the conduct of the war on the 28th of December, 1861, in reference to the affair of Ball's Bluff, which took place October 21st, and of which we shall presently have occasion again to speak.
In the course of his examination Senator Chandler, of Michigan, a legislator of unusually warlike tastes and fancy, who seems to have made up his mind that General McClellan had missed a noble opportunity for annihilating General Johnston by massing his own troops, and compelling the enemy to do
as much at Leesburg, a point which neither general had considered important enough to occupy in force, put the following questions to General McCall, and received from him the fol. lowing answers:
The Senator. Suppose you had been ordered up, Smith's division had been ordered up, and other divisions next to them had been ordered up along there, Stone's division had been ordered over, and Banks' division ordered over also, so as to be able to meet any force they could have brought from Manassas or Centreville into the open field, would not that have been a good time to have done it?
The General. No, sir.
The Senator. If they had failed to come out, then, you would have cut their left wing up entirely?
The General. That would have brought on the general battle of the campaign, and McClellan was not ready to fight that battle at that time.
The Senator. Why not?
The General. He had not the force. His men were not disciplined, as they were new. It would have been, I consider, a very imprudent thing. And I have not the smallest doubt that McClellan saw that at once, and he knew that if an affair of one or two brigades took place there, the probability was that it would have brought on the general battle of the campaign, and terminated, perhaps, the campaign. He was not prepared for it, and did not want to fight there. I am almost certain of that, judging from my knowledge of the man, and from what I think I should have done myself under the circumstances." *
* I cannot refrain from inserting here an exquisitely characteristic passage from the close of this examination of General McCall by Mr. Chandler, a passage which would be as amusing as it is characteristic had not the interference of such persons as Mr. Chandler with the civil and military policy of the nation entailed so much misery upon us. Utterly dissatisfied with the General's replies to his military inquiries, the mortified senator suddenly turns upon him thus: