« PrejšnjaNaprej »
LIFE OF GEN. GEORGE B. MOCLELLAN.
and the Foreign Offices of both countries, had been engaged for months with unlimited means in procuring it, that the French marshal, St. Arnaud, believed the enemy's force to be seventy thousand men, while the English Admiral Dundas supposed it to amount to one hundred and twenty thousand. Of the commander of the English army, Mr. Kinglake says: “It was natural, that a general who was within a few hours' sail of the country which he was to invade, and was yet unable to obtain from it any, even slight, glimmer of knowledge, should distrust information which had travelled round to him through the aid of the Home government) along the circumference of a vast circle; and Lord Raglan certainly considered that, in regard to the strength of the enemy in the Crimea and the land defenses of Sebastopol, he was simply without knowledge."
From these inevitable incidents of a great errand of invasion, even in Europe, it had resulted that the commanders of the allied armies, after effecting an unopposed landing on the shore of the Crimea, and winning a brilliant victory within a day's march of Sebastopol, had found themselves compelled, by every consideration of military prudence, to such delays in their movement upon that place as afforded its Russian defenders time enough to avail themselves of the genius of a young engineer who, with pickax and spade, rapidly made their stronghold as formidable by land as it had before been by sea, and determined, by his achievements in a single siege, the whole modern system of fortifications.
All that it was the rare privilege of Captain McClellan to see and learn of the relations between politics and the military art, and of the practical operations of war conducted upon the grandest scale, during his visit to Sebastopol, might, however, let us here observe, have produced but an imperfect and inadequate effect upon his mind, had not his own previous and priceless, though comparatively limited, experience in Mexico prepared him intelligently to receive it, and fitted him to
deduce from it the most solid instruction and the most durable convictions. The immediate fruit of his sojourn in Europe at this time was an elaborate and exhaustive report upon the constitution of the greater European armies, which was published under the authority of Congress in the early part of the year 1857, and which bears irrefragable witness to the pains and zeal with which the young officer had devoted himself to mastering the minutest details, as well as the broadest principles, of military organization. But of infinitely greater pith and moment to himself and to his country were the larger and deeper results of this military tour upon his mental constitution and his habits of thought.
The officers of the regular army of the United States, although most carefully trained in the principles of mathematical science and of the military art, during the four years of their academic course, have enjoyed for the most part in later life but few and limited opportunities of military experi
With the exception of the Mexican war, the lives of most of them now living had been passed, when the great rebellion broke upon us, in a routine of post and garrison duty between the peaceful sea-board of the Atlantic and the frontier forts of the Far West. A harassing but contemptible warfare with the roving Indian tribes of the trans-Mississippi educated them to practical skill in the handling of small detachments, but could do nothing, of course, toward familiarizing them with the spirit and the necessities of war on a grand scale. Many of them, inspired with a genuine zeal and love for their profession, were at great pains to master all that books could teach upon this subject. But as the most scientific and thoughtful of military authorities, Baron Jomini, has well observed, “ war, practical war is not an affair of mathematical demonstrations; it is a passionate drama," and no study of military literature, however judicious and faithful, can teach in years so much available military truth as a soldier like McClellan must imbibe from a few weeks of actual living
contact with the realities of war as he came upon and mingled with them in the Crimea. After the publication of this Report on the condition of the armies of Europe, in January, 1857, Captain McClellan resigned his commission in the army and went into civil life.
He was appointed chief-engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad, and upon the completion of that great enterprise was elected vice-president of the company, which post he continued to fill, residing at Chicago, until the month of August, 1860, when, having been chosen president of the Eastern Division of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, he removed to Cincinnati. Governor Dennison, of Ohio, in response to the first call of the President of the United States for volunteers to aid in the suppression of the rebellion and in maintaining the supremacy of the constitution, appointed George Brinton McClellan Major-General, to command the contingent of the State, being thirteen regiments of infantry. This commission was offered and accepted on the 23d of April, 1861.
On the 10th of May, 1861, the general government assigned General McClellan to the command of the Department of Ohio, embracing the States of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, with his headquarters at Cincinnati. Four days afterward he was commissioned a Major-General in the regular army, which rank he now holds. From this appointment dates his entrance into active service in the present war.
THE ORIGIN OF TIE WAR OF 1861. CONDITION OF THE COMBATANTS
AT THE OUTSET.
THE civil war which began with the surrender of Fort Sumter to the Confederate General Beauregard, in April, 1861, found the States of the South and of the North almost equally unprepared, in the condition of their treasuries and their armaments, for such a contest as the events of a very few months sufficed to develop into its true proportions.
Threats of disunion as a remedy for political evils not otherwise to be reached, had indeed been frequent in the history of the American Republic; but they had never led either the people of the States or the Federal Government seriously to consider and guard against the formidable consequences contingent upon a deliberate attempt to put those threats into effect. This is the more remarkable, that the history of the Union is the history, not of the gradual disintegration of that which had been at first a unit of feelings and of interests, but rather of the attempted consolidation of communities occupying an area of territory half as large as Europe; and divided, not only by distance and the difficulties of communication over so vast a region, but by their traditions, their habits, and the general economy of their life.
When the British Colonies combined, from the frontiers of Canada to the frontiers of Florida, in a common resistance to Parliamentary usurpation, the adherents of the Crown were not less confounded by the harmony in action of Virginia with New England, and of Pennsylvania with the Carolinas, than by the general spirit and energy with which the rebellious colonists confronted the metropolitan power of England, then advanced, by the triumphant administration of Chatham, to heights of imperial splendor unattained before in all her history.*
Under the stress of the Revolutionary War, the tendency to Union was naturally strengthened in the hearts of the peo
*"Nothing has surprised people more than the Virginians and Marylanders joining with so much warmth with the New England Republic cans, in their opposition to their ancient Constitution. . . . As there are certainly no nations under heaven more opposite than these Colonies, it would be very difficult to account for it on the principle of religion and sound policy, had not the Virginians discovered their indifference to both.”-Rivington's Gazettem-(Quoted by Fowler, Sect. Cont., p. 8.)
See, also, Irving's Life of Washington, vol. ii., p. 287. (16.) Franklin (Works, vol. iv., p. 27) uses the existence of independent communities united under the British flag, as an argument against the claims of Parliament. In fact," he writes, “ the British empire is not a single State, it comprehends many. We have the same king, but not the same legislature."
As to the great differences of feeling that existed between the Colonies even in the high noon of the Revolutionary temper, a cloud of witnesses might be summoned up.
John Adams, in describing his journey to Congress, in 1774, records the fact that many of the New York patriots were “intimidated lest the leveling spirit of the New England Colonies should propagate itself in New York.” “Phil Livingston,” he says, “is a great rough mortal, who threw out hints about Goths and Vandals, hanging Quakers," and the like, for the benefit of the Eastern patriots. In Philadelphia, too, he found Massachusetts distrusted and scolded.
Patrick Henry's famous speech, in which he declared that he was “not a Virginian but an American,” John Adams shows us, met with a tart and unsympathetic reply. A little colony has its all at stake as well as a great one,” exclaimed Major Sullivan.
Nor can there be any doubt that feelings of jealousy and distrust between the Colonies had much to do with the reluctance displayed by the Congress of the Colonies to take the decisive step of abolishing the royal supremacy. The only point distinctly settled by the inconsistent accounts which Adams and Jefferson have left of the genesis of the Declaration of Independence, is the fact that Massachusetts was compelled to surrender the leadership in the matter to Virginia, in order to conciliate the support of the Southern and Middle Colonies.