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Introduction to Alethea In Heart Ministries

(War of the Confederacy Rebellion of 1861-1865)



I PURPOSE, from a standpoint hitherto unattempted, to write out a History of the War of the Rebellion. In the multitudinous works now before the public, all that is needful has been said in regard to the causes which led to that memorable scene of "terror, tears, and blood," and to matters of detail in respect to our battles and campaigns, and to our unexampled national expenditure. My plan pertains, not at all to the causes and details of facts as they actually occurred, but to the conduct of this war. In this war the nation lost more than half a million of precious lives, accumulated upon its hands hardly less than a million of its maimed and pensioned soldiers, expended many billions of treasures, and has loaded itself down with a present debt of upwards of two thousand millions of dollars. What the nation needs to be informed about is, not how this war was, but how it should have been, conducted, and whether such an appalling expenditure of time, life, limb, and treasure was needed in bringing the conflict to a successful termination. One fact is undeniable, that another such war—a war as protracted and as wasteful of life and treasure—as this would ruin the nation. It is hardly to be expected that our national patriotism, or prudence, would endure such another draft upon time, blood, and treasure, and a doubling up of the debt under which we are now groaning. Yet, amid the possibilities of the future, it would imply infinite presumption to affirm; or calculate upon, the impossibility of another such a national catastrophe. If the war was wisely, and especially most wisely, conducted, the nation needs, as her guides in the future, to understand the facts and the reasons for the same. If, from its beginning to its close, it was badly conducted, as badly especially as can be conceived, this fact also should be known, with a full disclosure of the reasons thereof—that, as a nation, we may become wise and prudent through the knowledge and appreciation of past errors.

We need, also, to understand clearly the conduct of this war, as the immutable condition of knowing and appreciating the character and merits of the men whom we have elected, or may elect, to rule over us, and the wisdom, or unwisdom, which has induced the nation to elect these men to the high places which they occupy.

No free people can become "a wise and understanding people," and as moral as they are wise, unless by their votes they shall fill our chairs of state and representative halls with statesmen,—statesmen "with Atlantean shoulders fit to bear the weight of mightiest monarchies,"—statesmen, too, whose integrity and trustworthiness are as visible as their greatness. None but diminutive bodies can revolve around a small central orb. As long as this nation shall fill our chairs of state with small specimens of human nature, minds characterised by ignorance of national affairs, by greediness for filthy lucre, and indifference to official corruption,—statesmen fit to sustain the weight of the mighty interests of this great Republic, statesmen whose integrity and trustworthiness shall be as manifest as their great talents and wisdom, will be invisible in our Cabinets and halls of legislation. Had I a voice which could command the attention of the nation, that voice should break "trumpet tongued" upon the ear of every individual who is under the weight of the responsibility of the elective franchise; charging him, as he regards the best interests of his country, if he would save our Government from misrule and corruption, and prevent general demoralization, to shake off, at once and for ever, the shackles of party, to step out from the circles of party rings, and enter into a solemn covenant with his conscience and his God never again to cast a vote for any man to fill any important office,—any man whose high talents, wisdom, integrity, and trustworthiness are not "known and read of all men." When manifest wisdom and trustworthiness shall become the sine qua non conditions of commanding the votes of the people of this nation, then shall "wisdom and integrity be the stability of our times," and this great Confederacy shall be God's pillar of fire in the forefront of all nations. To do something to ensure this "consummation so devoutly to be wished" has been the prime motive which has induced the preparation of this history.



Having made the science of war a subject of careful study from my youth up, having critically read the history of the great campaigns of past ages, and done so for the specific purpose of a clear understanding and comprehension of the principles on which they were conducted, and the wisdom and unwisdom of successful and unsuccessful commanders; having most carefully studied the conduct of this war from its commencement to its close; having as carefully considered the relative strength and resources of the two parties in the conflict, and the comparative advantages and disadvantages of each for attack and defence; and having contrasted the duration of this war with others in which the cases were at all similar,—I have from the beginning maintained, and will now proceed to render undeniably evident to every candid reader of these pages, the following propositions: that this war ought not have been of a single year's continuance after our armies were organised; that it ought not to have cost this nation a hundred thousand lives, or a thousand millions of dollars; that within any eight months of the continuance of the war, after the middle of October 1861, any Commander-in-Chief of ordinary ability and well instructed in military science, would have brought that conflict to a final termination; that had General Grant been such a commander, he would have brought the conflict to a practical termination during the interval which occurred after he received his commission as Commander-in-Chief and the opening of his spring campaigns. I am well aware that these are bold and will be to many presumptuous propositions; I am equally well aware that in these propositions I distinctly and correctly represent the deliberate judgment of the best thinkers in the country, thinkers civil and military, to whom my views have been presented, together with the united opinions of the best military authorities in Europe. The conduct and continuance of this war, and the oceans of blood and treasure poured out in carrying it through, have no parallel in the history of the world, and are matters of wonder and astonishment to Christendom. We shall have real ground for national self-respect, and shall command the highest respect of the civilised world, when, and only when, we shall evince our wisdom, our candour, and integrity by a revealed comprehension and appreciation of the real facts of the case. All I ask of my countrymen is a candid hearing of my facts and arguments. If, after such a hearing, my proofs shall not be found "perfect and entire, wanting nothing," I freely consent to suffer any amount of national reprobacy which my worst enemies can devise.

I would here remark that the main portions of the criticisms which will be found on these pages were, during, the progress of the war, expressed verbally to my own pupils, and to leading minds around me; and in communications addressed to such individuals as Secretary Chase, and Messrs. Sumner, Chandler, etc., and members of the Committee on the Conduct of the War. In a long communication addressed to Secretary Chase, near the close of the year 1862, after giving quite an extended criticism on the conduct of the war, I made the statement that "if our military authorities had made it their supreme object to devise and carry out the worst system presented in history, or known to the science of war, they could not, in my honest judgment, have succeeded better than they had done." In his reply, after commending my criticisms, and requesting me to continue the correspondence, saying that my "suggestions would be very instructive to him, and might be beneficial to the nation," the Secretary added:—"The opinion which you have expressed about the conduct of the war thus far is an exact expression of apprehensions which have frequently suggested themselves to my own mind." It was impossible for him to conceive, he added, "of a war conducted upon worse principles than this had been." In a note received from Mr. Sumner about the same time, this paragraph is found:—"I have from the beginning been profoundly impressed with your views. An administration more quick and positive than ours would have adopted them early, and the war would have been ended long since." "I fully endorse all your views," said Senator Chandler, in a similar note, " and have done all I possibly could to induce the Administration to adopt them."

I would further state, in this connexion, that an epitome of all my criticisms on the conduct of the war up to January 1863 is contained in two long communications read to President Lincoln in the early part of that month, and read in the presence of Senators Wade and Wilson, and other leading members of Congress. The substance of these communications was at first verbally presented to the President, in the presence of Senators Wade and Wilson, and was then, at his special request, committed to writing. After the reading of the papers, it was unanimously agreed that they should be submitted to some military man especially qualified to judge of their character; and General McDowell, with unanimous approval, was selected. The papers, it should be borne in mind, contained a special criticism of the previous conduct of the war, and a detailed plan for the conduct of future campaigns. After a full hearing of the documents, and a careful discussion of their essential features, General McDowell certified in writing that "the plan presented was the best that he had heard suggested." "With this plan adopted," he remarked to me, "we can finish up the campaign here in Virginia during the present winter." In one of my calls upon Mr. Sumner, at his own rooms, I found there the celebrated historian, Bancroft. After our mutual introduction, Mr. Sumner remarked to his friend that he was in the presence of an "individual who had studied the science of war from his youth, and who had presented certain papers on the conduct of the present war which have made a profound impression on all to whom they have been read. These papers, also," Mr. Sumner added, "contain a detailed plan for the conduct of our future campaigns. As a historian can be relied on to keep a secret, I suggest that Dr. M. present to you the plan referred to." When I had done so, Mr. Bancroft promptly replied in these words, "Adopt that plan, and I am ready to write out a history of this war. Such has been its conduct thus far, that I have felt I could not endure the pain of writing out its history." He then expressed an earnest desire that the papers designated should be given to the public.

After I left Washington, one of our senators went down to the army of the Potomac, and laid the plan under consideration before General Burnside and his corps commanders. Every one of these commanders earnestly advocated the adoption of the plan. General Burnside fully endorsed the wisdom of the measure, but remarked that he had a plan of his own which he desired to test, before adopting the new one. He tried his own, failed, was superseded, and then expressed to that senator his deep regret that he had not followed the advice of his Generals. In regard to the criticisms contained in those communications, no individual in Washington, then, nor has any individual to whom they have since been presented suggested a doubt of the strict correctness of those criticisms; while the best authorities, military and civil, all agree that had that plan been adopted the war would have been brought to a final close within the space of eight months from January 1st, 1863. What that plan was, and how and why its adoption was prevented after the accomplishment of the event was rendered apparently certain, will be disclosed hereafter. The above facts and statements will evince, I judge, that I have reasons for the assurance of which I am possessed of the correctness of my criticisms on the conduct of this war, and that the public have reasons equally valid for giving a candid hearing to my presentations.


As preparatory to a full appreciation of particular criticisms, I would direct very special attention to certain facts of a general nature, facts which characterised the conduct of this war from its commencement to its close. A careful consideration of these facts will evince the strict correctness of my estimate of the matter, namely, that in badness of conduct this war has hardly a parallel in the history of the world. Consider, in the first place,—

A fundamental fact stated by President Lincoln.

In the papers read before President Lincoln, this statement was made, that we had had at least from six to eight hundred thousand men called into the field, and yet these immense forces had been so distributed over the whole country that our central armies were always too weak to do any effective service. When that sentence was read, the President interposed for a time, and made the following statements:—"I confess to you, gentlemen, that there has been connected with the conduct of this war one fact which I have never been able to comprehend. It is true that we have had all these vast forces in the field, and yet in no battle that has thus far been fought have there been 70,000 men engaged on our side. When I visited Antietam, after the battle there, I found between 92,000 and 93,000 effective men under the immediate command of General McClellan; yet, take all the forces that were under fire in that battle, and add to them all that had previously fought at South Mountain, and the aggregate does not amount to 70,000 men. So it has been from the commencement of the war to the present time. Such facts as these, gentlemen, I admit to be beyond my comprehension." "But one inference can be drawn from such facts," I replied. "Your Commanders-in-Chief, President Lincoln, evince a palpable ignorance of their business. The world knows of no parallel to the facts you have just stated." What was true of the conduct of this war from the beginning up to January 1863, characterised, as we shall see here after, its conduct to the end. With the amount of available forces under their command, our Commanders-in-Chief never ought to have lost an important battle, and never ought to have fought one without an amount of force which outnumbered the Confederate as three to two, or two to one. In all the important battles actually fought, on the other hand, the forces were so evenly balanced as to render victory on either side a matter of doubt, and victory and defeat so bloody as to appall the nation and the world.

Relative strength of the hostile forces during this war.

In judging correctly of the wisdom, or unwisdom, of military commanders in conducting their campaigns, we need to take distinctly into account the character and number of the forces under their command, as compared with the character and amount of the armies under hostile commanders. During the progress of this war, Napoleon sent the Adjutant-General of France to this country to learn, and report on his return, the actual condition of the Union army. That General was required to doff entirely his uniform, and to appear wholly as a private gentleman, revealing to nobody in this country his official character. In this state it was wisely judged that he would be in the best circumstances possible to ascertain the facts as they really were. Having obtained the desired information, he made this report to the home Government, that "the Union army was the best constituted and worst commanded army in the world." In that report, he correctly expressed the known judgment of the military authorities of Europe. Of the correctness of that report, as far as the soldiery of both the Union and Confederate armies are concerned, there can be no doubt whatever. Braver, stronger, more self-sacrificing men, or men more capable of enduring the hardships of war, the world never saw. But what shall we think of the second item in that report? Was, or was not, ours the worst commanded army in the world? No other judgment seems admissible if we adjudicate the case in the light of the comparative amount of the forces which constituted the Union and Confederate armies. According to official records, more than 2,600,000 men entered the Union armies during the progress of this war. After the middle of October 1861 our forces were never less than 800,000 and often exceeded 1,000,000 men, upwards of the number last designated being mustered out of service at the close of the war. According to the most reliable Confederate authorities, there never entered their armies much, if any, over 600,000 men, while their effective forces actually, at any one time, in the field never excelled 200,000. I give the figures pertaining to the Confederate armies as furnished by General S. Cooper, ex-Adjutant-General of the Confederacy, and endorsed as correct by Dr. J. Jones, Secretary of the Historical Society. These statements are also confirmed by the testimony of the ex-Vice-President of the Confederacy, Alexander H. Stevens, who says:—"The Confederates, all told in like manner, could not have much, if any, exceeded 600,000." If we consider the fact that the number of the white population of the eleven States which first entered into the Rebellion was, according to the census, less than 6,000,000 or less than 3,000,000 of males, the strict verity of the above statements becomes self-evident. Out of such a population not more than 600,000 men capable of bearing arms could have been drawn. Nor could such a population as constituted these States, especially in their circumstances, have equipped and kept in the field an effective force of more than 200,000 men. It must also be borne in mind that it was only in the early part of the war that men or provisions of any account were furnished by Tennessee, or Arkansas, and none from Western Virginia. In less than two years after the commencement of the war, also, soldiers from the States west of the Mississippi refused utterly to cross that river. Hence all the forces opposed to us east of said river, and where all the real issues of the war were located, had to be drawn from seven States whose white male population was less than 2,500,000. Such are the real facts of the case. The actual forces of the Confederacy during this war cannot have been underestimated by Messrs. Cooper and Stevens. Undeniably, the Union armies outnumbered those of the Confederacy, in all cases, as two, commonly as three, and during the entire period in which General Grant was our Commanderin-Chief, as four to one; yet, in almost all important battles the forces engaged were nearly equal, the issues of quite as many battles and campaigns were against us as in our favour, quite half a million of lives were sacrificed, and oceans of treasure, and between four and five years of time were expended, in subduing a rebellion where such overwhelming odds were on our side.

The relative position of the Confederate and Union States.

The validity of such a deduction becomes still more palpable when we consider the relative position of the Union and Confederate States, and consequently of the hostile forces of the same. Leaving Western Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas out of the account, the nine remaining Confederate States lay in a comparatively narrow strip, between the Potomac and Rio Grand, with the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico on the south, and the Union States on the north; the Gulf and the Ocean being wholly under our control. No country could have been more fully exposed to perfectly crushing blows, both on its water and land sides, than were these States during the progress of this war. On the water side, any amount of force could, at any time, have been conveyed to any point we chose, while the Union and Confederate armies always lay in the near vicinity of one another. Whenever any one of our central armies desired to find the enemy, it had to march but a very few miles to attain the object desired. No commanders of armies ever enjoyed such advantages as did ours to encircle, crush, and capture forces so far inferior to their own. At any period after the middle of October 1861, our Commander-in-Chief, leaving the army of the Potomac intact, and from the forces actually in the field could have collected an army of 80,000 or 100,000 men, have conveyed them by water to Hilton Head, from thence by an inland movement have captured Charlestown and Willmington, have crushed the rebellion in the Carolinas, and by moving up on General Lee's rear, and assaulting him, in combination with the army of the Potomac, have destroyed or captured the Confederate army in Virginia, and thus wiped out the rebellion in the States east of Savannah river. Or the same end could have been better accomplished by first moving the body referred to round by Fortress Monroe, landing them where, at the command of General Grant, General Butler landed 20,000 men,—that is, at Burmuda Hundred; and from thence seizing all General Lee's communications south of James river. In that case, between this body of men and the Potomac army, the entire army of General Lee would have been crushed or captured in a very few weeks. A very few weeks more would then have sufficed, through a general combination of all our armies, to wipe out the entire rebellion in all the States west of the Mississippi, and to ensure its speedy collapse everywhere. No man with any acquaintance with military affairs, or of common information, will for a moment doubt the validity of these statements.

Important facts connected with the army of the Potomac.

During the entire progress of this war, the objects of central regard on the part of the Union and Confederate States were the army of the Potomac, under its successive commanders, on the one hand, and that of Virginia, under General Lee, on the other. The exclusive mission of the former army was to strike a deadly blow at the heart of the rebellion by the capture of Richmond, and the dispersion, the annihilation, or capture of the army of General Lee. All parties were well aware that the accomplishment of this one mission would necessarily involve the speedy death of the Confederacy. And what was this army, of Virginia? In the character of its soldiery, and in its management upon the field, it has seldom, if ever, been surpassed. In numbers, however, it never reached 120,000, and generally fell quite below 100,000 men. When it encountered the army of the Potomac under General Grant, it never had more than 70,000 men in all, being outnumbered by the actual forces opposed to it on the field of conflict, as quite three to one. The single mission of General Lee, with the small band of brave men under his command, was to perpetuate and establish the Confederacy by defending the Confederate capital and the State of Virginia against the overwhelming masses of men as brave as his own, masses arrayed against him. If any one, after a careful comparison of the relative numbers of these two armies, and after considering the forces which our Commanders-in-Chief might, at any time, have concentrated and combined for the conquest of Virginia, will take a map and contemplate the field on which these two armies operated, he will perceive at once that no army could have been more exposed to crushing blows from forces which were, or might have been, combined against it, than was that of General Lee, and that no city can be more easily approached by superior hostile forces for purposes of assault or siege than was Richmond during that entire war; facts, also, which will be rendered demonstrably evident in the future pages of this history. What was actually accomplished on this field by this Potomac army? In its various campaigns, despite all its efforts, and that from no fault of its brave soldiery, the soil of the Union States was three times invaded by the little army of Virginia; in a large majority of the great battles fought, victory perched upon its standards, more than 200,000 Union soldiers were slaughtered, and the grand army of the Potomac never approached within seeing distance of the city which it was its supreme mission to reach and capture—never got in sight of that city, I say, until it was abandoned by the Confederates, and taken possession of by a small band of coloured troops. We may search all history for a parallel to such facts, and search in vain.

Periods of active service in our campaigns during this way.

The latitude and climate of the Confederate States permitted and required active service on the part of our armies during the entire year. Such service was also required by the examples of the great military commanders of all Christendom. Suwarrow, for example, marched the Russian army over the Alps in midwinter. The campaigns of Eylau and Austerlitz were carried on, the one amid the deep snows and terrible frosts of a Poland, and the other amid those of a Bohemian winter. The campaign of the Allies in France, the campaign which resulted in the capture of Paris, and the banishment of Napoleon to Elba, was wholly a winter campaign, and that in one of the most marshy provinces in Europe. The Germans, in their late French campaigns, never suspended operations for a single day on account of snow or frost. This has been true in all ages in regard to great armies under great military commanders.

Our great armies, however, uniformly rested during the winter months and in midwinter. After the first Bull Run campaign, "all was quiet on the Potomac," and everywhere else, until the next spring, when the Confederates retreated from Manassas, leaving behind them that fearful array of "Quaker guns" which during the prior fall and winter months had so fearfully frightened our "young Napoleon," the great Commander-in-Chief of all our armies. After the victory at Gettysburg, the capture of Vicksburg, and the lesser advantages gained at Lookout Mountains and Knoxville, our immense forces lay for ten months in a state of perfect idleness, either within, or directly upon, the borders of the Confederacy, and that in accordance with the decision of a Council of War, a council held by our Commander-in-Chief, with his leading generals. Such was the general character of the conduct of this war during its continuance. Here we have one of the main reasons why the war "dragged its slow length along" through so many years. If our spring or fall campaigns were successful, the practical suspension of hostilities during the summer and winter months enabled the Confederacy to repair all damages, and to adjust itself fully to the new state which affairs had assumed,—we losing more men, in the meantime, through disease resulting from idleness and dissipation, that would have been lost through active service. Had our Commanders-in-Chief followed the example of successful warfare in other nations, the Confederacy would have had "no rest day nor night," winter or summer, after the full opening of hostilities to their final close.

Our unimproved victories.

The real test of generalship is, not the mere gaining of victories, but a subsequent improvement of the advantages thereby secured. In the war under consideration, it seems to have been the deliberate plan of our Generals to give their opponents full opportunity, after a defeat, to repair their losses, and readjust their armies to the new exigencies which had arisen. At Antietam, for example, our commander claimed a great and signal victory on the part of the army under his command, while not two-thirds of his forces had taken any part at all in the battle,—the entire corps of General Porter, for example, not having fired a gun. Yet, with 30,000 fresh troops, and 60,000 more who were as ready to renew the fight as they had been to commence it the day before, our commander stood still, and saw General Lee pass his defeated army, without loss, over the Potomac. When absolutely commanded by the supreme authority at Washington to pass his army over the river in pursuit of the retreating foe, our "young Napoleon" absolutely refused obedience, under the plea that his army was in want of 10,000 pairs of shoes, and thus lay still for upwards of forty days. After the great victory at Gettysburg, General Lee retreated in one direction and our army moved off in another. When excessive floods delayed the retreating army, on its arrival at the Potomac, until ours came up, the latter then stood still, and did nothing whatever, until General Lee had manufactured a bridge and passed his army safely over. A signal victory on the 4th July required that our army should rest until the opening of the ensuing spring campaign. Such was the uniform policy of our commanders during this war. After the fall of Vicksburg, I wrote a communication to the New York Times,—a communication not published, of course. In this paper I remarked that any one at all acquainted with military affairs and the state of our country would perceive at once that the advantages to be derived from the victory at Gettysburg and the opening of the Mississippi, depended wholly upon the use which should be promptly made of the army under General Grant. If that army should be at once combined with that of the Potomac or Tennessee for a finally decisive movement upon Generals Lee or Johnston, the war might be brought to a speedy termination. I would venture, however, to give a prediction in respect to what would be done—Nothing decisive will now be attempted until the opening of the spring campaign next year; unimportant advantages will be magnified into signal victories; while the Republican papers will continually flood the country with reports that "the Confederacy is on its last legs," and is about to suffer a final collapse. During this wide interval, the Confederacy will repair the damages it has received, reorganise its armies, perfect its defences, and adjust itself to existing circumstances. In the spring, consequently, our campaigns will open as if no hostilities had before existed. These were the exact statements made in that communication; the reader will readily call to mind how absolutely those predictions accorded with the events which followed. When I came to comprehend the principles on which that war was conducted on our part, nothing almost gave me so much pain and apprehension as a signal victory gained by one of our armies in some particular locality,—a victory of an in decisive character in respect to main issues. The reason was that that victory would so completely satisfy our Commander-in-Chief, whoever he happened to be, that active operations would everywhere be suspended for some six or ten months. This, as we shall see hereafter, is no caricature of facts as they actually occurred throughout this war.

The time of the continuance of this war, as compared with others in other countries.

In the history of the world, when armies have encountered each other in the open field, as was true of our war, hostilities have been of short continuance. In what a limited period, for example, did England convey her armies half round the globe, and subdue the Sepoy rebellion among 150,000,000 of people in India; a rebellion in which the English forces had to encounter a soldiery which had been trained and armed by England herself. The campaign of Austerlitz, in which Napoleon marched his army across the entire empires of France and Germany, fought several battles, captured Vienna, struck off northwards into Bohemia, and in midwinter ended the war by the famous battle which gave name to the campaign under consideration, was begun and ended in the space of ninety days. In ninety days after Austria joined Russia and Prussia against Napoleon in Saxony, the campaign, which involved many and bloody battles, was finished by the victory of the Allies at Leipsic. The winter campaign of the Allies in France, the campaign which resulted in the capture of Paris and the banishment of Buonaparte to Elba, was but of ninety days' continuance. In ninety days after the Allies declared war against Napoleon on his return from Elba, Wellington and Blucher, all being taken by surprise, collected their armies, moved them to Belgium, quartered them there for several weeks before Buonaparte opened the campaign, fought four world-renowned battles, marched their armies from their last bloody field to Paris, captured that city, and sent the Emperor of France a prisoner to England. Wellington was longer than this in finishing up his Peninsular campaigns, because France had possession of all the strongholds of Spain, and the armies opposed to him were generally twice or three times as numerous as his own. Yet, with all these odds against him, he never lost a battle; and in a wonderfully short time drove the central army of France over the Pyrenees, and with his own invaded the French territory. Let us now compare a case which occurred in still more modern times. On the 15th of July, I870, France declared war against Prussia. On the 29th of January following, an armistice was signed at Versailles, among the terms of which was the surrender of all the fortifications about Paris, together with all the military forces in the city. On the first day of March in the same year, a treaty of peace was ratified by the National Assembly of France. By this treaty she ceded to Germany all Alsace and one-fifth of Lorraine, and agreed to pay to that Government $1,000,000,000 on account of the expenses of the war. During this brief period, the German armies had captured upwards Of 700,000 prisoners, France losing upwards of 250,000 men in battle and by disease, together with the leading fortified places of her empire, such as Paris, Sedan, Metz, and Strasburg. In short, in less than seven months the Germans collected their armies, moved them into France, crushed the military power of that great nation, consisting of 40,000,000 of people, captured and destroyed not less than 1,000,000 of its soldiery, took its capital and leading strongholds, and compelled it to pay the expenses of the war. It took our Commanders-in-Chief with effective forces far more numerous than those of Germany, between four and five years to prostrate the military power of less than 6,000,000 of people; a people who could never keep in the field an effective force of over 200,000 men, and whose territories were incomparably more accessible to our land and sea forces than was France to the armies of Germany or of the Allies. Can any one, in view of the palpable facts before us, doubt that within any ninety days after the middle of October 1861, it was clearly within the power of any one of our successive Commanders-in-Chief, had he understood his business, to have made such combinations of the forces under his command as to have secured the capture and the surrender or destruction of the army of Virginia? "My life upon the issue," I often remarked to President Lincoln during the interviews referred to, "if Richmond shall not be in our hands, and the army of General Lee captured or utterly dispersed, within three months from the present time, provided you will order the combinations proposed to be made." In my opinions upon the subject, such men as General McDowell, the corps commanders of the army of the Potomac, and leading thinkers in Washington, perfectly agreed. The reason why our war was thus protracted beyond all recorded examples is obvious. The Germans, for example, wherever the armies of France were collected, made that spot their centre, and made all their movements with fixed reference to one end—the encircling and capturing those forces. When a victory was gained, the retreating foe was relentlessly pursued until all possible advantages were reaped from said victory. After hostilities were commenced, they were never intermitted on account of heat, rain, snow, or frost, until the end proposed was secured. In our war, on the other hand, the armies of the Confederacy were never made our centres of operation, and their capture, or utter dispersion, the object of our aims. We were perpetually employed in assaulting strongholds, always approaching them on their strongest sides, leaving their communications intact, in conquering and holding territory, opening and guarding water communications, and "plugging up the Southern ports,"—always resting after our victories until the Confederacy had full opportunity to repair their losses. In short, our war on our part very much resembled a conflict between athletes, in which each aims exclusively to hit the other on his extremities, and in which the brave combatants rest twenty-four hours between each round.

Without further preliminary statements we now advance to a direct consideration of the actual conduct of this war; simply indicating the opinion that few facts in history will surprise the nation and the world more than will a disclosure, now for the first time made, of the real causes which actually brought this war to its sudden, unexpected, and bloodless termination.


Index | Preface | Introduction | I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | XIII | XIV | XV | XVI | XVII | XVIII | XIX | XX | XXI | XXII | XXIII | XXIV | XXV | XXVI | XXVII | XXVIII | XXIX | XXX | XXXI | XXXII | XXXIII