Can Change the World Again.
A CRITICAL HISTORY OF THE LATE AMERICAN WAR,
(War of the Confederacy Rebellion of 1861-1865)
REV. ASA MAHAN, D. D. LL.D.
THE COMMAND OF GENERAL FREMONT IN THE WESTERN DEPARTMENT.
THE COMMAND OF GENERAL FREMONT IN THE WESTERN DEPARTMENT.
ON the 10th July, as we have seen, General Lyon arrived at Springfield, and formed a junction there with the forces of Colonel Siegel, who had advanced from Rolla. Here we left this brave little army before whom Governor Jackson and General Price, with their forces, had fled from the State of Missouri. On the 9th of this month, General Fremont was appointed to the command of the Western District, which included Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas. Tarrying some time in the city of New York to obtain necessary arms, equipments, and munitions, he arrived at St. Louis on the 25th of the same month, and assumed the command of his department. As General Lyon was doing all that could be done, and that in the best manner, in and about Springfield, General Fremont did not interfere with the arrangements of his predecessor. In the meantime, the Confederates, largely reinforced, particularly in cavalry, re-entered and overran Southern Missouri, and confined General Lyon to Springfield, who was waiting for reinforcements. The general mustering out of the three months' men, however, prevented any being sent to his aid. Learning that the enemy was advancing upon him in two strong columns, one from Cassville on the south, and the other from Sarcassie on the west, he determined to advance upon the former and stronger body, and strike that before it had formed a junction with the latter. Leaving Springfield August 1st, with 5,500 foot, 400 horse, and 18 guns, he at Dug Springs met and defeated on the next morning a detachment of the advancing force. General McCulloch, who commanded this force, now moved west, and formed a junction with the column which was moving up from Sarcassie, while General Lyon returned to Springfield. The Confederates now advanced with great caution, and. on the 7th reached Wilson's Creek, ten miles south of Springfield. At this point, our brave General knowing well that the opposing force outnumbered his as more than two to one, determined to surprise the Confederates now under the command of General McCulloch, and this by a night attack. He accordingly on the 9th left Springfield with two columns; the main one commanded by himself, and the less, 1,200 strong, with 6 guns, by Colonel Siegel. At 4 a.m. August loth, the battle commenced by a front attack on the enemy's front by Lyon's forces, while the rear of McCulloch's right was attacked by Siegel. Taken by surprise, the Confederates at first recoiled in disorder. Becoming at length aware of the smallness of the force assaulting them, they returned and fought with desperate courage. On the enemy's right, Siegel at first gained a great advantage, and with his guns made terrible havock among the men opposed to him. Being at length suddenly assailed by a large force which had been mistaken for Unionists, his column was thrown into remediless confusion, and fled in disorder, five of his guns being taken. The entire weight of the Confederate columns now fell upon the devoted band under General Lyon. By the terrible fire of this band the enemy was, time and again, driven in confusion from the field, and driven but to return with greater force and determination. In the last onset, our brave commander, the idol of his army, and one of the most worthy of our nation's perpetual remembrance, fell, but with his army in possession of the field.
Major Sturgis now led back the Union forces in good order to Springfield; from whence, under the conduct of Colonel Siegel, a safe retreat, with a baggage train five miles in length, was effected to Rolla, and the south of Missouri was again in the hands of the Confederates. In this battle, which was fought by General Lyon contrary to his own judgment, he being over-persuaded by General Sweeny and others, the Union loss, as officially reported, was 223 killed, 721 wounded, and 108 missing. General McCulloch reported the entire loss on the other side as 265 killed and B00 wounded. The Unionists throughout the country lamented the death of General Lyon, as did the Confederates that of General Jackson, and for similar reasons. The former was, unquestionably, in all respects, one of the best Generals known in the Union army. His great merits are confessed even by the Confederates. "The death of General Lyon," says Pollard, in his " Southern History," " was a serious loss to the Federals in Missouri. He was an able and dangerous man-a man of the times, who appreciated the force of audacity and quick decision in a revolutionary war. To military education and talents he united a rare energy and promptitude. No doubts or scruples unsettled his mind." Mr. Pollard, we would add here, thus explains the reason why our army was totally unmolested in its retreat to Springfield and from thence with its long train to Rolla:Shortly after the battle, the Confederate army returned to the frontier of Arkansas, Generals McCulloch and Price having failed to agree on the plan of a campaign in Missouri."
EVENTS IN THE WESTERN DEPARTMENT, UNDER THE IMMEDIATE DIRECTION OF GENERAL FREMONT.
On the 25th July, as we have seen, four days after the disaster at Bull Run, General Fremont arrived in St. Louis, and assumed command in the Western Department. Nothing can exceed the confusion and peril which everywhere encircled him. On the South, Louisville, Cairo, Cape Girardeau, Ironton, and Springfield, were threatened by large Confederate forces; while LieutenantGovernor Reynolds was operating in Northern Missouri with an army approaching 5,00o in number, and the spirit of St. Louis was decidedly insurrectionary. From every direction the loudest calls for help reached him. In addition to the advance of McCulloch and Price upon Springfield, and the occupancy of North Missouri as stated, 20,000 men under General Pillow, for example, were advancing- on Cairo, and General Hardee with 5,000 troops, 2,000 being excellently mounted and equipped cavalry, was advancing upon Ironton. At Louisville and other assailable points, the Union forces were being confronted by superior hostile armies. Another difficulty which he had to contend with was the fact that the largest portion of the troops, which in great numbers arrived in St. Louis, were unarmed, and no means existed to arm them until arms and accoutre ments should arrive from the east; all exertions which any commander could employ being used to hasten this consummation.
Under the circumstances, the first thing to be done was to render the most vital points which were about to be assailed, secure. To this end our commander accordingly addressed himself. Having received a letter from General Lyon which convinced him that there were no pressing necessities at Springfield, and having reinforced Ironton, and Cape Girardeau, he, in five days after his arrival, collected 3,800 men, and transported them to Cairo; finding a force of only 1,200 men under General Prentiss at this place. The sudden appearance of this reinforcement induced General Pillow, who had landed at New Madrid, a few miles below the place, to make a hasty retreat. Thus this vital point was rendered permanently secure. On the 7th August he was back again at St. Louis, and took immediate measures, amid other pressing calls, to reinforce General Lyon; sending orders to Colonel Stevenson to march with his regiment from Booneville, and Colonel Montgomery to move with his from Kansas to Springfield. From St. Louis he could, at the time, send no reinforcements, because his recruits there were unarmed. Before any of the troops ordered for the relief of General Lyon, however, could reach him, the battle at Wilson's Creek had been fought, the brave General was dead, and his little army was in safe retreat to Rolla. To hold General Fremont responsible for the defeat of General Lyon's army at Wilson's Creek is to hold him responsible for an event which did not occur; for there was no defeat, but a real victory, of our army there,-a victory which left the little band master of the field, which occasioned a backward movement of the Confederates to the borders of Arkansas and a division of their forces there; the Texans and Arkansas troops under McCulloch moving south, and the Missourians under Price moving east, while, what was really expected, a safe retreat for our forces was secured. Should it be said that the orders to Colonels Stevenson and Montgomery should have been issued before the voyage to Cairo was commenced, the answer is ready:I. It might not have appeared safe, or even necessary, to have issued these orders at that time. 2. A sufficient reply is disclosed in the reason assigned by Wellington for his oversight in not reinforcing and furnishing needful ammunition to the little band at La Haye Sainte, namely, that under such circumstances it is impossible for any finite mind to think of everything. The only matter of wonder is that our commander, in the untried and perplexing circumstances which surrounded him, and in so few days, thought of and provided for so many things as he did, and did everything so perfectly. Such a rapid comprehension of the complicated situation of affairs, such quick and accurate discernment of the means requisite to the varied ends to be secured, such promptitude and decision in action, and such efficiency in accomplishing predetermined results, have few parallels in history.
Let us contemplate, for example, the startling facts which came before him on the 13th and 14th August. At one and the same time, on the day first designated, came the news of the battle and death of General Lyon at Wilson's Creek, of Colonel Mulligan's arrival with the Irish Chicago Brigade, 2,800 Union soldiers in all, at Lexington, of Price's advance to Warrenton with from 5,000 to 15,000 men, threatening Colonel Mulligan, with the fact that General J. C. Davis, commanding at Jefferson City, a district including Lexington, was carefully watching the movements of General Price, and in addition to all these, a most pressing demand from General Grant, commanding at Cairo, for reinforcements to render that point secure. On the next day came an absolute order from General Scott to "send 5000 well armed infantry to Washington without a moment's delay." At the same time there came from General Anderson, commanding in Kentucky, a most pressing call to send reinforcements to Louisville, which was seriously threatened by the Confederates- who were rapidly annexing that State.
Let us now stop for a moment and contemplate this requisition from Washington. It was well known to the military authorities there that all was in imminent peril in this Western Department, and that "all was quiet on the Potomac," that the withdrawal of 5,000 well armed infantry from the Western Department might be fatal to our interests there, while so small a force could do nothing really for our security in and about Washington. If 50,000 infantry, i,000 cavalry, 650 artillery, with thirty field guns, with the many thousands of men who had been hastened to the national capital during the twenty-four days since the disastrous affair at Bull Run, could not enable our "Young Napoleon" to hold Washington, of what avail could the mere addition of "5,000 well armed infantry" be to prevent the fall of that city? While it is safe to affirm that this cowardly order did not originate with General Scott, it is equally safe to affirm that it did originate in a mind of unparalleled stupidity, or in one inspired with a base desire to render unsuccessful the efforts of a dreaded rival to prevent one of the greatest of national calamities, the ruin of our interests in Kentucky and Missouri. The bad order, however, was promptly obeyed, 2,000 troops being dispatched from St. Louis, 2,000 from Kentucky, and 1,000 from other sources.
The measures which General Fremont did adopt under the circumstances now claim our attention. For the relief of Colonel Mulligan he at once dispatched two regiments to Jefferson City, with orders that two others should be sent from that place to Lexington. Orders were also sent to General Pope, in command Of 5,000 men in North Missouri, to move his forces to the same point. Similar orders were sent to General Sturgis and others, to cooperate in the concentration of forces for the relief of Lexington. The forces ordered to the city were quite equal to those by which it was threatened. None of these reinforcements, however, arrived in time to save the beleaguered force, which, after one of the most wonderful defences known in history, did surrender August loth. The censures heaped upon the General in command, on account of the fall and temporary occupation by the Con federates, clearly indicates a forgetfulness of the fact that all great enterprises are attended with some disasters, that all that the best commanders can do is to order adequate forces for the defence of important points threatened by the enemy, that unlooked-for occurrences, as was true in this case, may prevent the success of the wisest dispositions, and that when commanders in the management of vast and most complicated interests can only be censured for small disasters, the like of which attend all vast enterprises, we have, in the censures themselves, the best possible vindication of the superior wisdom of the conduct of such commanders. In the light of these undeniable facts and principles, General Fremont is more than vindicated against the only charges really brought against his administration. To General Lyon he did, before leaving St. Louis for Cairo, order the only body of forces which were in a condition to be moved. As soon as he returned to St. Louis, his first care was to forward to Springfield all the reinforcements needed. Before any such forces could reach that point, however, the blow was struck. At the same time we may safely challenge the world to designate any specific forces which should have been ordered to Lexington, that were not ordered to move to that one point, or to show that such orders were not as promptly sent as possible.
The general measures which General Fremont now adopted for defensive and offensive operations claim our special attention. A part of those measures are thus stated by Mr. Greeley:News of General Lyon's repulse and death reached St. Louis on the 13th. General Fremont thereupon decided to fortify that city with all possible despatch, as a permanent and central base of operations, to fortify and garrison, likewise, Cape Girardeau, Ironton, Rolla, and Jefferson City; using for this purpose hired labour as far as possible, so that his raw recruits, even though unarmed, might be drilled and fitted for service as rapidly as might be; when on the receipt of sufficient arms, he would take the field at the head of a numerous and effective army, and speedily regain all that should have been meanwhile lost." Another measure, not stated in the above extract, was to connect all the railroads entering the city of St. Louis, that there might be no hindrance in passing troops, munitions, and provisions through it to any place where they might need to be conveyed. The most important of all his measures was the plan of having the Mississippi and all the rivers connected with it commanded by ironclads. At his suggestion this plan was adopted by the Government. From this one suggestion greater results followed than from any other made by any commander of any department during the war. It was under the protection and by the aid of these vessels that Forts Henry and Donelson were captured, that General Pope succeeded in the capture of Columbus and the Hundred Islands, that the Confederate fleet was destroyed at Memphis, and that city captured, and that General Grant succeeded at Vicksburg. But for the ironclads, our army at Shiloh would, no doubt, have been taken. These benefits the nation owes to the comprehensive foresight of General Fremont.
While every energy was being put forth to render perfect all defensive arrangements, equal diligence was observed in preparing an offensive force for a final destruction of the Rebellion in Missouri. To put all assailable points in a state of security, 11,000 men were stationed in Fort Holt and Paducah, Kentucky; to prevent any advance upon Cairo or St. Louis, 10,000 were stationed at Cairo, 4,700 at Rolla, and 3,00o at Ironton. For offence and defence he had 7,000 men at St. Louis, 9,600 at Jefferson City, 5,500 in North Missouri, and 2,200 under General Lane on the borders of Kansas; while his recruits which were daily arriving were being as rapidly disciplined as possible for active service. By almost superhuman efforts, he was, in the latter part of September, enabled to take the field with an organized army of some 40,000 troops. Late on September 22nd he received from General Pope a telegram announcing the fall of Lexington, and the surrender of Colonel Mulligan and his immortal brigade. On the 22nd he left St. Louis for Jefferson City, expecting that General Price would make a stand somewhere on Missouri river. In this he was disappointed, General Price making a backward movement towards the south-west part of the State, stopping some time at Neosha, where he found General McCulloch with some 5,000 Confederates from Arkansas. On finding that General Fremont was on his track, our Confederate commander retreated still farther south to Pineville, the extreme south-west corner of the State. General Fremont having advanced from Jefferson City, some thirty miles, to Tipton, the terminus of the Pacific Railroad, spent some time there in putting his army in perfect order, as preparatory to a rapid pursuit of Price and Jackson. Here, on October 13th, he was visited by our most trustworthy and sagacious Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, in company with Adjutant-General Thomas and suite. It happened to rain just at this time. Our visitants from Washington of course saw everything in the very worst light possible, and carried back the report that all was managed badly in the Western Department, and that General Fremont would never be able to move his army over the roads which had, just before, been traversed by General Price and his army. What seemed to burden the mind of our immaculate Secretary most heavily was the financial condition of this department. He imagined that he discovered some want of integrity in one individual who had principal charge of the commissariat of the army. As evinced by the resolution passed by the House of Representatives in Washington, in regard to our Secretary on his retirement from his high office, he was as jealous of the integrity of all who had charge of army funds as Caesar was of the reputation of his wife. Our Secretary had in his pocket, when with our army, an order from the President to supersede General Fremont, should this be deemed expedient. As the army was fast in the mud, however, Mr. Cameron thought it best to leave it there under an affirmed incompetent commander.
We must stop here for a moment, to notice a somewhat brilliant affair which had just occurred at Fredericktown, in the south-east part of Missouri; a portion of the State which had hitherto been under the almost exclusive control of the Confederates. At the place designated above, General Jeff. Thompson, with a large force, occupied a very strong position. Here he was assailed by superior farces, sent by General Grant under Colonel Plummer from Cape Girardeau, and by Colonel Carlile with another force from Pilot Knob. After a fight of two hours, Thompson retreated, leaving sixty of his dead behind, among whom was Colonel Lowe, his second in command. Being hotly pursued for twenty miles, Thompson's band was wholly dispersed and broken up. Nothing now remained but for Fremont to disperse the force concentrated under Price at Pineville, and Missouri would be totally free from Confederate insurrectionists and invaders.
We will, also, in this connexion, consider the composition of the army which General Fremont had collected for the work before him. The army concentrated at Tipton, other bodies which were to co-operate in the great movement being in other localities, consisted Of 30,000 men. Of these, 5,00o were cavalry, while the number of cannon was eighty-six, a large number of them being rifled. Among the cavalry was a squadron known as " Prairie Scouts," a body of selected men commanded by Major F. J. White, who after a forced march of sixty miles, had just, without loss, recaptured Lexington, taking there, as Mr. Greeley states, "sixty or seventy prisoners, considerable property, and releasing a number of Unionists captured with Mulligan, including two colonels." There was also another body of horse equally noticeable, the Fremont 'Body-Guard,' under the command of one of the most chivalrous heroes of the age, Major Zagonyi. The army was divided into five divisions, commanded respectively by Generals Hunter, Pope, Siegel, McKinstry, and Asboth. The model after which this army was organized was, in the proportions of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, the most perfect then known in Europe; the proportion of cavalry being about the same, and that of artillery being greater, than those in Wellington's army at Waterloo, the proportion of the latter being more nearly conformed to that in the army of Napoleon on the same occasion. The army under Grouchy sent after the Prussians from Ligny consisted Of 31,969 men, of whom 4,350 were cavalry, 2,919 artillery, with ninety-six guns. When General McClellan first took command in the department of Washington, he found there, as we have seen, 50,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry, and 650 artillery, with thirty field-runs, this army having been organized under our then Commander-in-Chief. Among those high in command in this army were individuals like Asboth and Siegel, who were well acquainted with the provisioning and movements of such bodies.
If we should refer to the morale of the army, it is safe to affirm that no other ever went into the field with more assurance of hope, with more devotion to the sacred cause which they were to defend, with more determination and patience to do and to dare, or with more confidence in their commander, than was true of this army at Tipton. To these statements there was one exception, General Hunter, the second in command, who was certain to succeed General Fremont, if the latter should be superseded. "General Hunter," says General Thomas, in his report, "expressed to the Secretary of War his decided opinion that General Fremont was incompetent, and unfit for his extensive and important command." No man in a high position ever had immediately under him, and within one step of his place, a small and ignoble mind who did not regard his superior as utterly disqualified for his place, and himself most amply qualified to fill the high position. A large number of intelligent men in Missouri, the report states, gave a similar opinion. It is a singular fact that all the Confederate prisoners while General McClellan was at the head of our armies, unitedly testified that he, in the united judgment of the Confederacy, was the greatest general we had, and was more to be feared than almost all others.
Contrary to the prediction of Mr. Cameron and his associates, the army of General Fremont did move, arid did advancequite rapidly too. By the Ist November, four divisions of the army were in Springfield,-all but that of General Hunter; General Pope's division having marched seventy miles in two days. When on the way, one of the most chivalrous exploits known in the history of war was performed by the Prairie Scouts and Guardsmen, a force of 300 men under the command, at the time, of Major Zagonyi, Major White being detained by sickness. As this small force approached Springfield, they found well posted there a body consisting of 1,200 foot and q00 horse, and an adequate supply of guns. By a sudden charge all this force was utterly routed and dispersed. All this was done with a loss of but eighty-four killed and wounded. Zagonyi, of course, evacuated the place. Major White, however, having been first captured and then escaped, taking the leader of the capturing force in turn, improvised a home guard of twenty-four men, and re-entered and took possession of the place. Stationing twenty-two of this force as pickets on the outskirts, and holding the rest in reserve, he received a flag of truce from the Confederate commander, asking leave to bury their dead. This request, he replied, must be referred to General Siegel, who was approaching the place. Leave having been obtained, the Confederates, under the eye of the brave Major and his guard, quietly buried their dead. The victory of Zagonyi has been censured as a deed of desperate daring. By not dissimilar acts, however, Murat laid the foundation for his fame. Such deeds, when of occasional occurrence, impart new power to a whole army. Such was the impression of this victory upon the army of General Fremont. Certairr it is that no army was ever better prepared for a decisive battle than was his, when all his dispositions were perfected for a great movement upon the Confederate army, now concentrated in force at Wilson's Creek. Just at this time, however, November 2nd, a messenger of ill omen arrived in camp, bringing an order from General Scott removing General Fremont, and ordering him to turn over his command to General Hunter, and report himself by letter to Washington. As General Hunter had not come up, it was determined, in a council of war, to march the next morning, and fight the battle contemplated. In the evening, however, General Hunter did arrive, assumed command, and ordered, not a battle, but a retreat with all possible haste, to the nearest railroads that could be reached by different divisions of the army. The excuse for this order was that it accorded with instructions received from Washington.
Now commenced a scene which gives us a palpable illustration of the extreme shortness of the step from the sublime to the ridiculousthe spectacle of one of the bravest and best ordered armies in the world, an army of about 40,000 men, running for dear life from 20,000 badly furnished and dispirited foes. General Price, by his scouts, soon became aware of the dastardly retreat of our army, and commanded a hot pursuit, captured not a few prisoners, and not a small amount of baggage until our retreating general halted his breathless troops at the places designated, surrendering all South-western Missouri to the Confederates.
This retreat, we believe, has but one parallel in history. We refer to the famous retreat of Admiral Field-Marshal Tschichagoff down the Beresina. When the French army in its retreat from Moscow reached this river, a Russian army under the Marshal named lay in their front, on the opposite side of the river, rendering a passage over and a farther retreat of the enemy strictly impossible, as Buonaparte afterwards affirmed. "Not a man of us," he said, "could have escaped had the Russian army remained where it was." As soon as the French army came in sight, however, Tschichagoff ordered a hasty retreat to another passage twenty miles below, and permitted the French to pass on just where and as they desired So when our army was within striking distance of the enemy it had been so earnestly seeking, and was in the very act of inflicting upon him a crushing blow, which would have permanently delivered Missouri from the Confederates, our new commander beat a sudden retreat, and fled, terror-stricken,-fled before an enemy whose forces were hardly half as numerous or half as well provided as his own. Buonaparte would never pronounce the name of the Russian commander, always calling him " that ass of an Admiral."
No excuse or apology can be offered for the conduct of General Hunter in two particularsassuming command when he did, and making any order from Washington, or any other consideration, a reason for not fighting a battle before his retreat, in the crisis then existing. There is not a law of our country, nor an usage known to war, which required him not to permit his predecessor to continue in command until after a battle then immediately pending, and determined on by the unanimous decision of a council of war, had been fought. On the other hand, all the known usages of war prohibited his immediate assumption of command under the then existing circumstances. The same remarks apply to any orders which General Hunter may have received from Washington. Discretion in regard to the time when command shall be assumed, and a retreat ordered, is always expected in such cases. During the battle of Austerlitz, for example, Marshal Sault received a positive order from his Emperor to charge instantly upon the enemy's line. The Marshal, who was then carefully observing certain movements of the Austrians in his front, paid no seeming regard to the order. The same order was sent a second time, and a second time was disregarded. A third time the same order was sent, and that in the most absolute form. "Tell the Emperor," was the reply, "that I will obey his order, but not now." When the right moment arrived, the movement was made, and with such results that the Emperor, when he came up, thus addressed the Marshal, who had thus three times disobeyed an absolute order: "Marshal Sault, you are the greatest tactician of modern times." Admiral Nelson gained the victory at Copenhagen by continuing the battle after having received from his superior in command an absolute order to retreat; and received for his disobedience the approval of his Government and country. In regard to orders received from authorities which cannot be cognizant of what is rendered necessary by immediate exigencies, discretion is demanded by the higher laws of nature and nations, and by the known usages of war is demanded in regard to the time when and the manner in which orders shall be obeyed. In some circumstances, as in the case of Nelson, this higher law demands actual disobedience. Had General Hunter, before assuming command, permitted that battle to have been fought as arranged, his name would have gone down to posterity "as ointment poured forth." For having presumptuously assumed command, and ordered that retreat, his name, if it descends to posterity at all, must go down side by side with that of Admiral Field-Marshal Tschichagoff.
The motive which dictated the order from Washington suspending General Fremont and ordering that retreat, becomes perfectly palpable when contemplated in the light of these palpable facts. On the 13th September, when General Fremont received the absolute order to "send 5,000 well armed infantry to Washington without a moment's delay," it was well known at the national capital that all was in the greatest peril in the Western Department, and that the greatest difficulty then was the want of arms to supply the recruits. "Reliable information," General Fremont telegraphed to Washington, " from the vicinity of Price's column shows his present force to be 11,000 at Warrensburgh, and 4,000 at Georgetown, with pickets extending toward Syracuse. Green is making for Booneville, with a probable force of 3,000. Withdrawal of force from this part of Missouri risks the State; from Paducah, loses Western Kentucky." In the face of these appalling facts, "the 5,000 well armed infantry" were remorselessly forced from this department. When this was done, "all was quiet on the Potomac," with no more peril of an attack from the enemy than there was of "the falling of the sky;" while reinforcements were so rapidly coming in that, one month later, General McClellan reported 152,051 men under his command. On the 15th August, according to official reports, there had entered the Union army, our regular force included, an aggregate of 499,250 men. Deducting from these the three months recruits, an aggregate is left of about 420,000 men; and this number was vastly increased by September 13th, when the order under consideration was issued. Outside of the Department of Washington there were more than 100,000 unemployed troops nearer that city than was the eastern boundary of the Western Department. Why were all these passed by, and the requisition made from the only spot where real danger was known to exist?
We must also bear in mind here that when Mr. Cameron and his portege General Thomas found General Fremont, as they thought, stuck fast in the mud, with the impossibility of extricating himself, he was left in command; "a bad name" being given him at Washington. As soon as our veteran commander had extricated himself, however, and was known to be about to precipitate his army with crushing force upon Price and McCulloch, and thus permanently free Missouri from the Confederates, an order was hastened on suspending General Fremont, putting Hunter in his place, and ordering instant retreat. In the light of all these facts, we may safely challenge the world to assign any other motive or cause for those under consideration but a deliberate choice that the nation should endure eternal disgrace, and the people of the Western Department should suffer untold evils, rather than that a victory and conquest should occur,-a victory and conquest which should crown with immortal honour General Fremont.
The evils which immediately resulted from this disgraceful retreat from Springfield are thus truly depicted by Mr. Victor:"That last retreat from Springfield let loose all the wild elements of disorder, rapine, and murder. The longsuffering Unionists of the south-western section offered up their homes, many of them their lives, as a sacrifice to a cause which could return them only suffering for devotion."
Had General Fremont been continued in command, and had he been supported as he might have been, the following results of national importance would unquestionably have occurred. In the first place, the world-wide dishonour which our nation was enduring from the disaster at Bull Run would have been more than wiped out by an annihilating victory over Price and McCulloch, and the immediate wiping out of the rebellion in two States, Missouri and Arkansas. Our army under Fremont undeniably outnumbered that under the hostile commanders, and the former was far better appointed and equipped, and was in far higher spirits, than the latter. How, we ask, could those raw troops from Missouri and Arkansas have withstood for an hour the fire of those eighty-six field guns, and all this followed up by crushing masses of infantry and cavalry ? As was truly said by Major Dorsheimer, then in our army, " a victory such as the country has long desired and sorely needsa decisive, complete, and overwhelming victorywas as certain as it is possible for the skill and valour of man to make certain any future event." Such a victory, also, with the advantages of pursuit which General Fremont possessed, would undeniably have been followed by the utter dispersion or capture of those Confederate forces. This would have resulted in the immediate suppression of the Rebellion, not only in Missouri, but Arkansas, and the turning of the enemy's positions on the Mississippi.
Other events of still greater importance would have followed in other departments of General Fremont's command. An army at least 100,000 strong would have been precipitated upon the 40,000 Confederate forces occupying Central Kentucky, on a line extending from the eastern to the western borders of the State. These forces would, of course, have been driven at once out of this State, and beyond the southern borders of Tennessee. By the opening of the spring campaign, with the Rebellion effectively suppressed in the States of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and with our ironclads in readiness, an army under the protection of the ironclad fleet would have passed down the Mississippi, captured New Orleans, and thus cut asunder the Confederacy, rendering its speedy collapse a matter of certainty. Such was the actual plan of the great commander of this department. Our military authorities at Washington, however, could not at that time endure the spectacle(we record it with shame, but as a demand of integrity)the spectacle of a great and energetic commander in any department, that commander being General John C. Fremont. Subsequent events fully vindicated the wisdom of Fremont's order pertaining to slaveholders, and the great mistake of our venerated President in reversing that order. The act of our President was, in effect, a proclamation to all the people in the border slave States, that Unionists should risk everything by devotion to, and Rebels nothing by their treason against, their country. It became, consequently, a common maxim in those States that Unionists were the only real sufferers from the war.