Captains of the Civil War, A Chronicle of the Blue and the Gray
William Wood

Part 2 out of 5

a dark night, or through a dense fog, when her smoke might
sometimes be conned from the tops. Occasionally, too, a foreigner
would try to run in, and not seldom succeed, because only the
fastest vessels tried to run the blockade after the first few
months. But the general experience was one of utter boredom
rarely relieved by a stroke of good luck.

The South could not break the blockade. But the North could
tighten it, and did so repeatedly, not only at sea but by
establishing strong strategic centers of its own along the
Southern coast. We have seen already how Hatteras Island was
taken in '61, five weeks after Bull Run. Within another three
weeks Ship Island was also taken, to the great disadvantage of
the Gulf ports and the corresponding advantage of the Federal
fleet blockading them; for Ship Island commanded the coastwise
channels between Mobile and New Orleans, the two great scenes of
Farragut's success. Then, on the seventh of November, the day
that Grant began his triumphant career by dealing the
Confederates a shrewd strategic blow at Belmont in Missouri,
South Carolina suffered a worse defeat at Port Royal (where she
lost Forts Beauregard and Walker) than North Carolina had
suffered at Hatteras Island. Admiral S. F. Du Pont managed the
naval part of the Port Royal expedition with consummate skill,
especially the fine fleet action off Hilton Head against the
Southern ships and forts. He was ably seconded by General Thomas
West Sherman, commanding the troops.

North Carolina's turn soon came again, when she lost Roanoke
Island (and with it the command of Albemarle Sound) on February
8, 1862; and when she also had Pamlico Sound shut against her by
a joint expedition that struck down her defenses as far inland as
Newbern on the fourteenth of March. Then came the turn of
Georgia, where Fort Pulaski, the outpost of Savannah, fell to the
Federals on the eleventh of April. Within another month Florida
was even more hardly hit when the pressure of the Union fleet and
army on Virginia compelled the South to use. as reinforcements
the garrison that had held Pensacola since the beginning of the

These were all severe blows to the Southern cause. But they were
nothing to the one which immediately followed.

The idea of an attack on New Orleans had been conceived in June,
'61, by Commander (afterwards Admiral) D.D. Porter, of the U.S.S.
Powhatan, when he was helping to blockade the Mississippi. The
Navy Department had begun thinking over the same idea in
September and had worked out a definite scheme. New Orleans was
of immense strategic importance, as being the link between the
sea and river systems of the war. The mass of people and their
politicians, on both sides, absurdly thought of New Orleans as
the objective of a land invasion from the north. Happily for the
Union cause, Gustavus Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, knew
better and persuaded his civilian chief, Gideon Welles, that this
was work for a joint expedition, with the navy first, the army
second. The navy could take New Orleans. The army would have to
hold it.

The squadron destined for this enterprise was commanded by David
Glasgow Farragut, who arrived at Ship Island on February 20,
1862, in the Hartford, the famous man-of-war that carried his
flag in triumph to the end. Unlike Lee and Jackson, Grant and
Sherman, the other four great leaders in the Civil War, Farragut
was not an American whose ancestors on both sides had come from
the British Isles. Like Lee, however, he was of very ancient
lineage, one of his ancestors, Don Pedro Farragut, having held a
high command under the King of Aragon in the Moorish wars of the
thirteenth century. Farragut's father was a pure-blooded
Spaniard, born under the British flag in Minorca in 1755. Half
Spanish, half Southern by descent, Farragut was wholly Southern
by family environment. His mother, Elizabeth Shine, was a native
of North Carolina. He spent his early boyhood in New Orleans.
Both his first and second wives came from Virginia; and he made
his home at Norfolk. On the outbreak of the war, however, he
immediately went North and applied for employment with the Union

Farragut was the oldest of the five great leaders, being now
sixty years of age, while Lee was fifty-five, Sherman forty-two,
Grant forty, and Jackson thirty-eight. He was, however, fit as an
athlete in training, able to turn a handspring on his birthday
and to hold his own in swordsmanship against any of his officers.
Of middle height, strong build, and rather plain features, he did
not attract attention in a crowd. But his alert and upright
carriage, keenly interested look, and genial smile impressed all
who ever knew him with a sense of native kindliness and power.
Though far too great a master of the art of war to interfere with
his subordinates he always took care to understand their duties
from their own points of view so that he could control every part
of the complex naval instruments of war--human and material
alike--with a sure and inspiring touch. His one weakness as a
leader was his generous inclination to give subordinates the
chance of distinguishing themselves when they could have done
more useful service in a less conspicuous position.

Farragut's base at Ship Island was about a hundred miles east
from the Confederate Forts Jackson and St. Philip. These forts
guarded the entrance to the Mississippi. Ninety miles above them
stood New Orleans, to which they gave protection and from which
they drew all their supplies. The result of a conference at
Washington was an order from Welles to "reduce the defenses which
guard the approaches to New Orleans." But Farragut's own
infinitely better plan was to run past the forts and take New
Orleans first. By doing this he would save the extra loss
required for reducing the forts and would take the weak defenses
of New Orleans entirely by surprise. Then, when New Orleans fell,
the forts, cut off from all supplies, would have to surrender
without the firing of another shot. Everything depended on
whether Farragut could run past without too much loss. Profoundly
versed in all the factors of the problem, he foresaw that his
solution would prove right, while Washington's would as certainly
be wrong. So, taking the utmost advantage of all the freedom that
his general instructions allowed, he followed a course in which
anything short of complete success would mean the ruin of his
whole career.

The forts were strong, had ninety guns that would bear once
fleet, and were well placed, one on each side of the river. But
they suffered from all the disadvantages of fixed defenses
opposed by a mobile enemy, and their own mobile auxiliaries were
far from being satisfactory. The best of the "River Defense
Fleet," including several rams, had been ordered up to Memphis,
so sure was the Confederate Government that the attack would come
from the north. Two home-made ironclads were failures. The
Louisiana's engines were not ready in time; and her captain
refused to be towed into the position near the boom where he
could do the enemy most harm. The Mississippi, a mere floating
house, built by ordinary carpenters, never reached the forts at
all and was burnt by her own men at New Orleans.

Farragut felt sure of his fleet. He had four splendid new
men-of-war that formed a homogeneous squadron, four other sizable
warships, and nine new gunboats. All spars and rigging that could
be dispensed with were taken down; all hulls camouflaged with
Mississippi mud; and all decks whitened for handiness at night. A
weak point, however, was the presence of mortar-boats that would
have been better out of the way altogether. These boats had been
sent to bombard the forts,which, according to the plan preferred
by the Government, were to be taken before New Orleans was
attacked. In other words, the Government wished to cut off the
branches first; while Farragut wished to cut down the tree
itself, knowing the branches must fall with the trunk.

On the eighteenth of April the mortar-boats began heaving shells
at the forts. But, after six days of bombardment, the forts were
nowhere near the point of surrendering, and the supply of shells
had begun to run low.

Meanwhile the squadron had been busy preparing for the great
ordeal. The first task was to break the boom across the river.
This boom was placed so as to hold the ships under the fire of
the forts; and the four-knot spring current was so strong that
the eight-knot ships could not make way enough against it to cut
clear through with certainty. Moreover, the middle of the boom
was filled in by eight big schooners, chained together, with
their masts and rigging dragging astern so as to form a most
awkward entanglement. Farragut's fleet captain, Henry H. Bell,
taking two gunboats, Itasca and Pinola, under Lieutenants
Caldwell and Crosby, slipped the chains of one schooner;
whereupon this schooner and the Itasca swung back and grounded
under fire of the forts. The Pinola gallantly stood by, helping
Itasca clear. Then Caldwell, with splendid audacity and skill,
steamed up through the narrow gap, turned round, put on the
Itasca's utmost speed, and, with the current in his favor,
charged full tilt against the chains that still held fast. For
one breathless moment the little Itasca seemed lost. Her bows
rose clear out, as, quivering from stem to stern, she was
suddenly brought up short from top speed to nothing. But, in
another fateful minute, with a rending crash, the two nearest
schooners gave way and swept back like a gate, while the Itasca
herself shot clear and came down in triumph to the fleet.

The passage was made on the twenty-fourth, in line-ahead (that
is, one after another) because Farragut found the opening
narrower than he thought it should be for two columns abreast, at
night, under fire, and against the spring current. Owing to the
configuration of the channel the starboard column had to weigh
first, which gave the lead to the 500-ton gunboat Cayuga. This
was the one weak point, because the leading vessel, drawing most
fire, should have been the strongest. The fault was Farragut's;
for his heart got the better of his head when it came to placing
Captain Theodorus Bailey, his dauntless second-in-command, on
board a vessel fit to lead the starboard column. He could not
bear to obscure any captain's chances of distinction by putting
another captain over him. So Bailey was sent to the best vessel
commanded by a lieutenant.

The Cayuga's navigating officer, finding that the guns of the
forts were all trained on midstream, edged in towards Fort St.
Philip. His masts were shot to pieces, but his hull drew clear
without great damage. "Then," he says, "I looked back for some of
our vessels; and my heart jumped up into my mouth when I found I
could not see a single one. I thought they must all have been
sunk by the forts." But not a ship had gone down. The three big
ones of the starboard column--Pensacola, Mississippi, and
Oneida--closed with the fort (so that the gunners on both sides
exchanged jeers of defiance) and kept up a furious fire till the
lighter craft astern slipped past safely and joined the Cayuga

Meanwhile the Cayuga had been attacked by a mob of Mississippi
steamers, six of which belonged to the original fourteen blessed
with their precious independence by Secretary Benjamin, "backed
by the whole Missouri Delegation." So when the rest of the
Federal light craft came up, "all sorts of things happened" in a
general free fight. There was no lack of Confederate courage; but
an utter absence of concerted action and of the simplest kind of
naval skill, except on the part of the two vessels commanded by
ex-officers of the United States Navy. The Federal light craft
cut their way through their unorganized opponents as easily as a
battalion of regulars could cut through a mob throwing stones.
But the only two Confederate naval officers got clear of the
scrimmage and did all that skill could do with their makeshift
little craft against the Federal fleet. Kennon singled out the
Varuna (the only one of Farragut's vessels that was not a real
man-of-war), raked her stern with the two guns of his own much
inferior vessel, the Governor Moore, and rammed her into a
sinking condition. Warley flew at bigger game with his little
ram, the Manassas, trying three of the large men-of-war, one
after another, as they came upstream. The Pensacola eluded him by
a knowing turn of her helm that roused his warmest admiration.
The Mississippi caught the blow glancingly on her quarter and got
off with little damage. The Brooklyn was taken fair and square
amidships; but, though her planking was crushed in, she sprang no
serious leak and went on with the fight. The wretched little
Confederate engines had not been able to drive the ram home.

The Brooklyn was the flagship Hartford's next-astern and the
Richmond's next-ahead, these three forming the main body of
Farragut's own port column, which followed hard on the heels of
the starboard one, so hard, indeed, that there were only twenty
minutes between the first shot fired by the forts at the Cayuga
and the first shot fired by the Hartford at the forts. Besides
the forts there was the Louisiana floating battery that helped to
swell the storm of shot and shell; and down the river came a
fire-raft gallantly towed by a tug. The Hartford sheered off,
over towards Fort St. Philip, under whose guns she took ground by
the head while the raft closed in and set her ablaze. Instantly
the hands on fire duty sprang to their work. But the flames
rushed in through the ports; and the men were forced a step back.
Farragut at once called out: "Don't flinch from the fire, boys.
There's a hotter fire than that for those who don't do their
duty!" Whereupon they plied their hoses to such good effect that
the fire was soon got under control. Farragut calmly resumed his
walk up and down the poop, while the gunners blew the gallant
little tug to bits and smashed the raft in pieces. Then he stood
keenly watching the Hartford back clear, gather way, and take the
lead upstream again. Every now and then he looked at the pocket
compass that hung from his watch chain; though, for the most
part, he tried to scan a scene of action lit only by the flashes
of the guns. The air was dense and very still; so the smoke of
guns and funnels hung like a pall over both the combatants while
the desperate fight went on.

At last the fleet fought through and reached the clearer
atmosphere above the forts; all but the last three gunboats,
which were driven back by the fire. Then Farragut immediately
sent word to General Benjamin F. Butler that the troops could be
brought up by the bayous that ran parallel to the river out of
range of the forts. But the General, having taken in the
situation at a glance from a transport just below the scene of
action, had begun to collect his men at Sable Island, twelve
miles behind Fort St. Philip, long before Farragut's messenger
could reach him by way of the Quarantine Bayou. From Sable Island
the troops were taken by the transports to a point on the
Mississippi five miles above Fort St. Philip.

After a well-earned rest the whole fleet moved up to New Orleans
on the twenty-fifth, turning the city's lines five miles
downstream without the loss of a man, for the simple reason that
these had been built only to resist an army, and so lay with
flanks entirely open to a fleet. General Lovell (the able
commander who had so often warned the Confederate Government of
the danger from the sea) at once evacuated the defenseless city.
The best of the younger men were away with the armies. The best
of the older men were too few for the storm. And so pandemonium
broke loose. Burning boats, blazing cotton, and a howling mob
greeted Farragut's arrival. But after the forts (now completely
cut off from their base) had surrendered on the twenty-eighth a
landing party from the fleet soon brought the mob to its senses
by planting howitzers in the streets and lowering the Confederate
colors over the city hall. On the first of May a garrison of
Federal troops took charge of New Orleans and kept it till the
war was over.

New Orleans was a most pregnant Federal victory; for it
established a Union base at the great strategic point where
sea-power and land-power could meet most effectively in
Mississippi waters.

But it was followed by a perfect anti-climax; for the Federal
Government, having planned a naval concentration at Vicksburg,
determined to put the plan in operation; though all the naval and
military means concerned made such a plan impossible of execution
in 1862. Amphibious forces--fleets and armies combined--were
essential. There was no use in parading up and down the river,
however triumphantly, so long as the force employed could only
hold the part of the channel within actual range of its guns. The
Confederates could be driven off the Mississippi at any given
point. But there was nothing to prevent them from coming back
again when once the ships had passed. An army to seize and hold
strategic points ashore was absolutely indispensable. Then, and
only then, Farragut's long line of communication with his base at
New Orleans would be safe, and the land in which the Mississippi
was the principal highway could itself be conquered.

"If the Mississippi expedition from Cairo shall not have
descended the river, you will take advantage of the panic to push
a strong force up the river to take all their defenses in rear."
These were the orders Farragut had to obey if he succeeded in
taking New Orleans. They were soon reinforced by this reminder:
"The only anxiety we feel is to know if you have followed up your
instructions and pushed a strong force up the river to meet the
Western flotilla." Farragut therefore felt bound to obey and do
all that could be done to carry on a quite impossible campaign.
So, with a useless landing party of only fifteen hundred troops,
he pushed up to Vicksburg, four hundred miles above New Orleans.
The nearest Federal army had been halted by the Confederate
defenses above Memphis, another four hundred higher still.

There were several reasons why Farragut should not have gone up.
His big ships would certainly be stranded if he went up and
waited for the army to come down; moreover, when stranded, these
ships would be captured while waiting, because both banks were
swarming with vastly outnumbering Confederate troops. Then, such
a disaster would more than offset the triumph of New Orleans by
still further depressing Federal morale at a time when the
Federal arms were doing none too well near Washington. Finally,
all the force that was being worse than wasted up the Mississippi
might have been turned against Mobile, which, at that time, was
much weaker than the defenses Farragut had already overcome. But
the people of the North were clamorous for more victories along
the line to which the press had drawn their gaze. So the
Government ordered the fleet to carry on this impossible

Farragut did his best. Within a month of passing the forts he had
not only captured New Orleans and repaired the many serious
damages suffered by his fleet but had captured Baton Rouge, and
taken even his biggest ships to Vicksburg, five hundred miles
from the Gulf, against a continuous current, and right through
the heart of a hostile land. Finding that there were thirty
thousand Confederates in, near, or within a day of Vicksburg he
and General Thomas Williams agreed that nothing could be done
with the fifteen hundred troops which formed the only landing
party. Sickness and casualties had reduced the ships' companies;
so there were not even a few seamen to spare as reinforcements
for these fifteen hundred soldiers, whom Butler had sent, under
Williams, with the fleet. Then Farragut turned back, his stores
running dangerously short owing to the enormous difficulties of
keeping open his long, precarious line of communications. "I
arrived in New Orleans with five or six days' provisions and one
anchor, and am now trying to procure others . . . . Fighting is
nothing to the evils of the river--getting on shore, running foul
of one another, losing anchors, etc." In a confidential letter
home he is still more outspoken. "They will keep us in this river
till the vessels break down and all the little reputation we have
made has evaporated. The Government appears to think that we can
do anything. They expect, me to navigate the Mississippi nine
hundred miles in the face of batteries, ironclad rams, etc.; and
yet with all the ironclad vessels they have North they could not
get to Norfolk or Richmond."

Back from Washington came still more urgent orders to join the
Mississippi flotilla which was coming down to Vicksburg from the
north under Flag Officer Charles H. Davis. So once more the fleet
worked its laboriously wasteful way up to Vicksburg, where it
passed the forts with the help of Porter's flotilla of
mortar-boats on the twenty-eighth of June and joined Davis on the
first of July. There, in useless danger, the joint forces lay
till the fifteenth, the day on which Grant's own "most anxious
period of the war" began on the Memphis-Corinth line, four
hundred miles above.

Farragut, getting very anxious about the shoaling of the water,
was then preparing to run down when he heard firing in the Yazoo,
a tributary that joined the Mississippi four miles higher up.
This came from a fight between one of his reconnoitering
gunboats, the Carondelet, and the Arkansas, an ironclad
Confederate ram that would have been very dangerous indeed if her
miserable engines had been able to give her any speed. She was
beating the Carondelet, but getting her smoke-stack so badly
holed that her speed dropped down to one knot, which scarcely
gave her steerage way and made her unable to ram. Firing hard she
ran the gauntlet of both fleets and took refuge under the
Vicksburg bluffs, whence she might run out and ram the Union
vessels below. Farragut therefore ran down himself, hoping to
smash her by successive broadsides in passing. But the
difficulties of the passage wasted the daylight, so that he had
to run by at night. She therefore survived his attack, and went
downstream to join the Confederates against Baton Rouge. But her
engines gave way before she got there; and she had to be blown

Farragut was back at New Orleans before the end of July. On the
fifth of August the Confederates made their attack on Baton
Rouge; but were beaten back by the Union garrison aided by three
of Farragut's gunboats and two larger vessels from Davis's
command. The losses were not very severe on either side; but the
Union lost a leader of really magnificent promise in its
commanding general, Thomas Williams, a great-hearted, cool-headed
man and most accomplished officer. The garrison of Baton Rouge,
being too small and sickly and exposed, was withdrawn to New
Orleans a few days later.

Then Farragut at last returned to the Gulf blockade. Davis went
back up the river, where he was succeeded by D.D. Porter in
October. And the Confederates, warned of what was coming, made
Port Hudson and Vicksburg as strong as they could. Vicksburg was
now the only point they held on the Mississippi where there were
rails on both sides; and the Red River, flowing in from the West
between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, was the only good line of
communication connecting them with Texas, whence so much of their
meat was obtained.

For three months Farragut directed the Gulf blockade from
Pensacola, where, on the day of his arrival, the twentieth of
August, he was the first American to hoist an admiral's flag. The
rank of rear-admiral in the United States Navy had been created
on the previous sixteenth of July; and Farragut was the senior of
the first three officers upon whom it was conferred.

Farragut became the ranking admiral just when the United States
Navy was having its hardest struggle to do its fivefold duty
well. There was commerce protection on the high seas, blockade
along the coast, cooperation with the army on salt water and on
fresh, and of course the destruction of the nascent Confederate
forces afloat. But perhaps a knottier problem than any part of
its combatant duty was how to manage, in the very midst of war,
that rapid expansion of its own strength for which no government
had let it prepare in time of peace. During this year the number
of vessels in commission grew from 264 to 427. Yet such a form of
expansion was much simpler than that of the enlisted men; and the
expansion of even the most highly trained enlisted personnel was
very much simpler than the corresponding expansion of the
officers. Happily for the United States Navy it started with a
long lead over its enemy. More happily still it could expand with
the help of greatly superior resources. Most happily of all, the
sevenfold expansion that was effected before the war was over
could be made under leaders like Farragut: leaders, that is, who,
though in mere numbers they were no more, in proportion to their
whole service, than the flag as mere material is to a man-of-war,
were yet, as is the flag, the living symbol of a people's soul.

Commerce protection on the high seas was an exceedingly harassing
affair. A few swift raiders, having the initiative, enjoyed great
advantages over a far larger number of defending vessels. Every
daring raid was trumpeted round the world, bringing down
unmeasured, and often unmerited, blame on the defense. The most
successful vigilance would, on the other hand, pass by unheeded.
The Union navy lacked the means of patrolling the sea lanes of
commerce over millions and millions of desolate square miles.
Consequently the war-risk insurance rose to a prohibitive height
on vessels flying the Stars and Stripes; and, as a further
result, enormous transfers were made to other flags. The
incessant calls for recruits, afloat and ashore, and to some
extent the lure of the western lands, also robbed the merchant
service of its men. Thus, one way and another, the glory of the
old merchant marine departed with the Civil War.

Blockade was more to the point than any attempt to patrol the sea
lanes. Yet it was even more harassing; for it involved three
distinct though closely correlated kinds of operation: not only
the seizure, in conjunction with the army, of enemy ports, and
the patrolling of an enemy coastline three thousand miles long,
but also the patrolling of those oversea ports from which most
contraband came. This oversea patrol was the most effective,
because it went straight to the source of trouble. But it
required extraordinary vigilance, because it had to be conducted
from beyond the three-mile limit, and with the greatest care for
all the rights of neutrals.

By mid-November Farragut was back at New Orleans. A month later
General Banks arrived with reinforcements. He superseded General
Butler and was under orders to cooperate with McClernand, Grant's
second-in-command, who was to come down the Mississippi from
Cairo. But the proposed meeting of the two armies never took
place. Banks remained south of Port Hudson, McClernand far north
of Vicksburg; for, as we shall see in the next chapter, Sherman's
attempt to take Vicksburg from the North failed on the
twenty-ninth of December.

The naval and river campaigns of '62 thus ended in disappointment
for the Union. And, on New Year's Day, Galveston, which Farragut
had occupied in October without a fight and which was lightly
garrisoned by three hundred soldiers, fell into Confederate hands
under most exasperating circumstances. After the captain and
first lieutenant of the U.S.S. Harriet Lane had been shot by the
riflemen aboard two cotton-clad steamers the next officer tamely
surrendered. Commander Renshaw, who was in charge of the
blockade, amply redeemed the honor of the Navy by refusing to
surrender the Westfield, in spite of the odds against him, and by
blowing her up instead. But when he died at the post of duty the
remaining Union vessels escaped; and the blockade was raised for
a week.

After that Commodore H.H. Bell, one of Farragut's best men,
closed in with a grip which never let go. Yet even Bell suffered
a reverse when he sent the U.S.S. Hatteras to overhaul a strange
vessel that lured her off some fifteen miles and sank her in a
thirteen-minute fight. This stranger was the Alabama, then just
beginning her famous or notorious career. Nor were these the only
Union troubles in the Gulf during the first three weeks of the
new year. Commander J.N. Matt ran the Florida out of Mobile,
right through the squadron that had been specially strengthened
to deal with her; and the shore defenses of the Sabine Pass, like
those of Galveston, fell into Confederate hands again, to remain
there till the war was over.

In spite of all failures, however, Farragut still had the upper
hand along the Gulf, and up the Mississippi as far as New
Orleans, without which admirable base the River War of '69. could
never have prepared the way for Grant's magnificent victory in
the River War of '63.


The military front stretched east and west across the border
States from the Mississippi Valley to the sea. This immense and
fluctuating front, under its various and often changed
commanders, was never a well coordinated whole. The Alleghany
Mountains divided the eastern or Virginian wing from the western
or "River" wing. Yet there was always more or less connection
between these two main parts, and the fortunes of one naturally
affected those of the other. Most eyes, both at home and abroad,
were fixed on the Virginian wing, where the Confederate capital
stood little more than a hundred miles from Washington, where the
greatest rival armies fought, and where decisive victory was
bound to have the most momentous consequences. But the River wing
was hardly less important; for there the Union Government
actually hoped to reach these three supreme objectives in this
one campaign: the absolute possession of the border States, the
undisputed right of way along the Mississippi from Cairo to the
Gulf, and the triumphant invasion of the lower South in
conjunction with the final conquest of Virginia.

We have seen already how the Union navy, aided by the army, won
its way up the Mississippi from the Gulf to Baton Rouge, but
failed to secure a single point beyond. We shall now see how the
Union army, aided by the navy, won its way down the Mississippi
from Cairo to Memphis, and fairly attained the first
objective--the possession of the border States; but how it also
failed from the north, as the others had failed from the south,
to gain a footing on the crucial stretch between Vicksburg and
Port Hudson. One more year was required to win the Mississippi;
two more to invade the lower South; three to conquer Virginia.

Just after the fall of Fort Sumter the Union Government had the
foresight to warn James B. Eads, the well-known builder of
Mississippi jetties, that they would probably draw upon his
"thorough knowledge of our Western rivers and the use of steam on
them." But it was not till August that they gave him the contract
for the regular gunboat flotilla; and it was not till the
following year that his vessels began their work. In the meantime
the armies were asking for all sorts of transport and protective
craft. So the first flotilla on Mississippi waters started under
the War (not the Navy) Department, though manned under the
executive orders of Commander John Rodgers, U. S. N., who bought
three river steamers at Cincinnati, lowered their engines,
strengthened their frames, protected their decks, and changed
them into gunboats.

The first phase of the clash in this land of navigable rivers had
ended, as we have seen already, with the taking of Boonville on
the Missouri by that staunch and daring Union regular, General
Nathaniel Lyon, on June 17, 1861. Boonville was a stunning blow
to secession in those parts. Confederate hopes, however, again
rose high when the news of Bull Run came through. At this time
General John C. Fremont was taking command of all the Union
forces in the "Western Department," which included Illinois and
everything between the Mississippi and the Rockies. Fremont's
command, however, was short and full of trouble. Round his
headquarters at St. Louis the Confederate colors were flaunted in
his face. His requisitions for arms and money were not met at
Washington. Union regiments marched in without proper equipment
and with next to no supplies. There were boards of inquiry on his
contracts. There were endless cross-purposes between him and
Washington. And early in November he was transferred to West
Virginia just as he was about to attack with what seemed to him
every prospect of success. He had not succeeded. But he had done
good work in fortifying St. Louis; in ordering gunboats, tugs,
and mortar-boats; in producing some kind of system out of utter
confusion,; in trusting good men like Lyon; and in sending the
then unknown Ulysses Grant to take command at Cairo, the
excellent strategic base where the Ohio joins the Mississippi.

The most determined fighting that took place during Fremont's
command was brought on by Lyon, who attacked Ben McCulloch at
Wilson's Creek, in southwest Missouri, on the tenth of August.
Though McCulloch had ten thousand, against not much over five,
Lyon was so set on driving the Confederates away from such an
important lead-bearing region that he risked an attack, hoping by
surprise, skillful maneuvers, and the help of his regulars to
shake the enemy's hold, even if he could not thoroughly defeat
him. Disheartened by his repeated failure to get reinforcements,
and very anxious about the fate of his flanking column under
Sigel, whose attack from the rear was defeated, he expressed his
forebodings to his staff. But the light of battle shone bright as
ever in his eyes; he was killed leading a magnificent charge; and
when, after his death, his little army drew off in good order,
the Confederates, by their own account, "were glad to see him

On the twentieth of September the Confederates under Sterling
Price won a barren victory by taking Lexington, Missouri, where
Colonel James Mulligan made a gallant defense. That was the last
Confederate foothold on the Missouri; and it could not be

In October, Anderson, who had never recovered from the strain of
defending Fort Sumter, turned over to Sherman the very
troublesome Kentucky command. Sherman pointed out to the visiting
Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, that while McClellan had a
hundred thousand men for a front of a hundred miles in Virginia,
and Fremont had sixty thousand for about the same distance, he
(Sherman) had been given only eighteen thousand to guard the link
between them, although this link stretched out three hundred
miles. Sherman then asked for sixty thousand men at once; and
said two hundred thousand would be needed later on. "Good God!"
said Cameron, "where are they to come from?" Come they had to, as
Sherman foresaw. Cameron made trouble at Washington by calling
Sherman's words "insane"; and Sherman's "insanity" became a
stumbling-block that took a long time to remove.

Grant, in command at Cairo, began his career as a general by
cleverly forestalling the enemy at Paducah, where the Tennessee
flows into the Ohio. Then, on the seventh of November, he closed
the first confused campaign on the Mississippi by attacking
Belmont, Missouri, twenty miles downstream from Cairo, in order
to prevent the Confederates at Columbus, Kentucky, right
opposite, from sending reinforcements to Sterling Price in
Arkansas. There was a stiff fight, in which the Union gunboats
did good work. Grant handled his soldiers equally well; and the
Union objective was fully attained.

Halleck, the Federal Commander-in-Chief for the river campaign of
'62, fixed his headquarters at St. Louis. From this main base his
right wing had rails as far as Rolla, whence the mail road went
on southwest, straight across Missouri. At Lebanon, near the
middle of the State, General Samuel R. Curtis was concentrating,
before advancing still farther southwest against the Confederates
whom he eventually fought at Pea Ridge. From St. Louis there was
good river, rail, and road connection south to Halleck's center
in the neighborhood of Cairo, where General Ulysses S. Grant had
his chief field base, at the junction of the Mississippi and
Ohio. A little farther east Grant had another excellent position
at Paducah, beside the junction of the Ohio and the Tennessee.
Naval forces were of course indispensable for this amphibious
campaign; and in Flag-Officer Andrew Hull Foote the Western
Flotilla had a commander able to cooperate with the best of his
military colleagues. Halleck's left--a semi-independent
command--was based on the Ohio, stretched clear across Kentucky,
and was commanded by a good organizer and disciplinarian, General
Don Carlos Buell, whose own position at Munfordville was not only
near the middle of the State but about midway between the
important railway junctions of Louisville and Nashville.

Henry W. Halleck was a middle-aged, commonplace, and very
cautious general, who faithfully plodded through the war without
defeat or victory. He looked so long before he leaped that he
never leaped at all--not even on retreating enemies. Good for the
regular officework routine, he was like a hen with ducklings for
this river war, in which Curtis, Grant, Buell, and his naval
colleague Foote, were all his betters on the fighting line.

His opponent, Albert Sidney Johnston, was also middle-aged, being
fifty-nine; but quite fit for active service. Johnston had had a
picturesque career, both in and out of the army; and many on both
sides thought him likely to prove the greatest leader of the war.
He was, however, a less formidable opponent than Northerners were
apt to think. He was not a consummate genius like Lee. He had
inferior numbers and resources; and the Confederate Government
interfered with him. Yet they did have the good sense to put both
sides of the Mississippi under his unified command, including not
only Kentucky and Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas, but the whole
of the crucial stretch from Vicksburg to Port Hudson. In this
they were wiser than the Federal Government with Halleck's
command, which was neither so extensive nor so completely

Johnston took post in his own front line at Bowling Green,
Kentucky, not far south of Buell's position at Munfordville. He
was very anxious to keep a hold on Kentucky and Missouri, along
the southern frontiers of which his forces were arrayed. His
extreme right was thrown northward under General Marshall to
Prestonburg, near the border of West Virginia, in the dangerous
neighborhood of many Union mountain folk. His southern outpost on
the right was also in the same kind of danger at Cumberland Gap,
a strategic pass into the Alleghanies at a point where Kentucky,
Tennessee, and Virginia meet. Halfway west from there, to Bowling
Green the Confederates hoped to hold the Cumberland near Logan's
Cross Roads and Mill Springs. Westwards from Bowling Green
Johnston's line held positions at Fort Donelson on the
Cumberland, Fort Henry on the Tennessee, and Columbus on the
Mississippi. All his Trans-Mississippi troops were under the
command of the enthusiastic Earl Van Dorn, who hoped to end his
spring campaign in triumph at St. Louis.

The fighting began in January at the northeastern end of the
line, where the Union Government, chiefly for political reasons,
was particularly anxious to strengthen the Unionists that lived
all down the western Alleghanies and so were a thorn in the side
of the solid South beyond. On the tenth Colonel James A.
Garfield, a future President, attacked and defeated Marshall near
Prestonburg and occupied the line of Middle Creek. The
Confederates, half starved, half clad, ill armed, slightly
outnumbered, and with no advantage except their position, fought
well, but unavailingly. Only some three thousand men were engaged
on both sides put together. Yet the result was important because
it meant that the Confederates had lost their hold on the eastern
end of Kentucky, which was now in unrestricted touch with West

Within eight days a greater Union commander, General G.H. Thomas,
emerged as the victor of a much bigger battle at Mill Springs and
Logan's Cross Roads on the upper Cumberland, ninety miles due
east of Bowling Green. The victory was complete, and Thomas's
name was made. Thomas, indeed, was known already as a man whose
stentorian orders had to be obeyed; and a clever young
Confederate prisoner used this reputation as his excuse for
getting beaten: "We were doing pretty good fighting till old man
Thomas rose up in his stirrups, and we heard him holler out:
'Attention, Creation! By kingdoms, right wheel!' Then we knew you
had us."

There were only about four thousand men a side. But in itself,
and in conjunction with Garfield's little victory at Prestonburg,
the battle of Logan's Cross Roads was important as raising the
Federal morale, as breaking through Johnston's right, and as
opening the road into eastern Tennessee. Short supplies and
almost impassable roads, however, prevented a further advance.
One brigade was therefore detached against Cumberland Gap, while
the rest joined Buell's command, which was engaged in organizing,
drilling hard, and keeping an eye on Johnston.

In February the scene of action changed to Johnston's left
center, where Forts Donelson and Henry were blocking the Federal
advance up the Cumberland and the Tennessee.

On the fourth, Flag-Officer Foote, with seven gunboats, of which
four were ironclads, led the way up the Tennessee, against Fort
Henry. That day the furious current was dashing driftwood in
whirling masses against the flotilla, which had all it could do
to keep station, even with double anchors down and full steam up.
Next morning a new danger appeared in the shape of what looked
like a school of dead porpoises. These were Confederate
torpedoes, washed from their moorings. As it was now broad
daylight they were all successfully avoided; and the crews felt
as if they had won the first round.

The sixth of February dawned clear, with just sufficient breeze
to blow the smoke away. The flotilla steamed up the swollen
Tennessee between the silent, densely wooded banks. Not a sound
was heard ashore until, just after noon, Fort Henry came into
view and answered the flagship's signal shot with a crashing
discharge of all its big guns. Then the fire waxed hot and heavy
on both sides, the gunboats knocking geyser-spouts of earth about
the fort, and the fort knocking gigantic splinters out of the
gunboats. The Essex ironclad was doing very well when a big shot
crashed into her middle boiler, which immediately burst like a
shell, scalding the nearest men to death, burning others, and
sending the rest flying overboard or aft. With both pilots dead
and Commander W.D. Porter badly scalded, the Essex was drifting
out of action when the word went round that Fort Henry had
surrendered: and there, sure enough, were the Confederate colors
coming down. Instantly Porter rallied for the moment, called for
three cheers, and fell back exhausted at the third.

The Confederate General Tilghman surrendered to Foote with less
than a hundred men, all the rest, over twenty-five hundred,
having started towards Fort Donelson before the flag came down.
The Western Flotilla had won the day alone. But it was the fear
of Grant's approaching army that hurried the escaping garrison.
An hour after the surrender Grant rode in and took command. That
night victors and vanquished were dining together when a fussy
staff officer came in to tell Grant that he could not find the
Confederate reports. On this Captain Jesse Taylor, the chief
Confederate staff officer, replied that he had destroyed them.
The angry Federal then turned on him with the question, "Don't
you know you've laid yourself open to punishment?" and was
storming along, when Grant quietly broke in: "I should be very
much surprised and mortified if one of my subordinate officers
should allow information which he could destroy to fall into the
hands of the enemy."

The surrender of Fort Henry, coming so soon after Prestonburg and
Logan's Cross Roads, caused great rejoicing in the loyal North.
The victory, effective in itself, was completed by sending the
ironclad Carondelet several miles upstream to destroy the
Memphis-Ohio railway bridge, thus cutting the shortest line from
Bowling Green to the Mississippi. But the action, in which the
army took no part, was only a preliminary skirmish compared with
the joint attack of the fleet and army on Fort Donelson. Fort
Donelson was of great strategic importance. If it held fast, and
the Federals were defeated, then Johnston's line would probably
hold from Bowling Green to Columbus, and the rails, roads, and
rivers would remain Confederate in western Tennessee. If, on the
other hand, Fort Donelson fell, and more especially if its
garrison surrendered, then Johnston's line would have to be
withdrawn at once, lest the same fate should overtake the
outflanked remains of it. Both sides understood this perfectly
well; and all concerned looked anxiously to see how the new
Federal commander, General Grant, would face the crisis.

Ulysses Simpson Grant came of sturdy New England stock, being
eighth in descent from Matthew Grant, who landed in 1630 and was
Surveyor of Connecticut for over forty years. Grant's mother was
one of the Simpsons who had been Pennsylvanians for several
generations. His family was therefore as racy of the North as
Lee's was of the South. His great-grandfather and
great-granduncle, Noah and Solomon Grant, held British
commissions during the final French-and-Indian or Seven Years'
War (1756-63) when both were killed in the same campaign. His
grandfather Noah served all through the Revolutionary War.
Financial reverses and the death of his grandmother broke up the
family; and his father, Jesse Grant, was given the kindest of
homes by Judge Tod of Ohio. Jesse, being as independent as he was
grateful, turned his energies into the first business at hand,
which happened to be a tannery at Deerfield owned by the father
of that wild enthusiast John Brown. A great reader, an able
contributor to the Western press, and a most public-spirited
citizen, Jesse Grant was a good father to his famous son, who was
born on April 27, 1822, at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio.
Young Grant hated the tannery, but delighted in everything
connected with horses; so he looked after the teams. One day,
after swapping horses many miles from home, he found himself
driving a terrified bolter that he only just managed to stop on
the edge of a big embankment. His grown-up companion, who had no
stomach for any more, then changed into a safe freight wagon. But
Ulysses, tying his bandanna over the runaway's eyes, stuck to the
post of danger.

After passing through West Point without any special distinction,
except that he came out first in horsemanship, Grant was
disappointed at not receiving the cavalry commission which he
would have greatly preferred to the infantry one he was given
instead. Years later, when already a rising general, he vainly
yearned for a cavalry brigade. Otherwise he had curiously little
taste for military life; though at West Point he thought the two
finest men in the world were Captain C.F. Smith, the splendidly
smart Commandant, and, even more, that magnificently handsome
giant, Winfield Scott, who came down to inspect the cadets. Some
years after having served with credit all through the Mexican War
(when, like Lee, he learnt so much about so many future friends
and foes) he left the army, not to return till he and Sherman had
seen Blair and Lyon take Camp Jackson. After wisely declining to
reenter the service under the patronage of General John Pope, who
was full of self-importance about his acquaintance with the Union
leaders of Illinois, Grant wrote to the Adjutant-General at
Washington offering to command a regiment. Like Sherman, he felt
much more diffident about the rise from ex-captain of regulars to
colonel commanding a battalion than some mere civilians felt
about commanding brigades or directing the strategy of armies. He
has himself recorded his horror of sole responsibility as he
approached what might have been a little battlefield on which his
own battalion would have been pitted against a Southern one
commanded by a Colonel Harris. "My heart kept getting higher and
higher until it felt as though it was in my throat. I would have
given anything then to have been back in Illinois; but I had not
the moral courage to halt and consider what to do. When we
reached a point from which the valley below was in full view . .
. the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred
to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had
been of him: This was a view of the question I never forgot."

Grant's latent powers developed rapidly. Starting with a good
stock of military knowledge he soon added to it in every way he
could. He had the insight of genius. Above all, he had an
indomitable will both in carrying out practicable plans in spite
of every obstacle and in ruthlessly dismissing every one who
failed. Not tall, not handsome, in no way striking at first
sight, he looked the leader born only by reason of his square
jaw, keen eye, and determined expression. Lincoln's conclusive
answer to a deputation asking for Grant's removal simply was, "he
fights." And, when mounted on his splendid charger Cincinnati,
Grant even looked what he was--"a first-class fighting man."

Grant marched straight across the narrow neck of land between the
forts, which were only twelve miles apart. Foote of course had to
go round by the Ohio--fifteen times as far. His vanguard, the
dauntless Carondelet, now commanded by Henry Walke, arrived on
the twelfth and fired the first shots at the fort, which stood on
a bluff more than a hundred feet high and mounted fifteen heavy
guns in three tiers of fire. Grant's infantry was already in
position round the Confederate entrenchments; and when his
soldiers heard the naval guns they first gave three rousing
cheers and then began firing hard, lest the sailors should get
ahead of them again. Birge's sharpshooters, the snipers of those
days, were particularly keen. They never drilled as a battalion,
but simply assembled in bunches for orders, when Birge would ask:
"Canteens full? Biscuits for all day?" After which he would sing
out: "All right, boys, hunt your holes"; and off they would go to
stalk the enemy with their long-range rifles.

Early next morning Grant sent word to Walke that he was
establishing the rest of his batteries and that he was ready to
take advantage of any diversion which the Carondelet could make
in his favor. Walke then fired hard for two hours under cover of
a wooded point. The fort fired back equally hard; but with little
effect except for one big solid shot which stove in a casemate,
knocked down a dozen men, burst the steam heater, and bounded
about the engine room "like a wild beast pursuing its prey."
Forty minutes later the Carondelet was again in action, firing
hard till dark. Late that night Foote arrived with the rest of
the flotilla.

The fourteenth was another naval day. Foote's flotilla advanced
gallantly, the four ironclads leading in line abreast, the two
wooden gunboats half a mile astern. The ironclads closed in to
less than a quarter-mile and hung on like bulldogs till the
Confederates in the lowest battery were driven from their guns.
But the plunging fire from the big guns on the bluff crashed down
with ever increasing effect. Davits were smashed like matches,
boats knocked into kindling wood, armor dented, started, ripped,
stripped, and sent splashing overboard as if by strokes of
lightning. Before the decks could be resanded there was so much
blood on them that the gun crews could hardly work for slipping.
Presently the Pittsburgh swung round, ran foul of the Carondelet,
and dropped downstream. The pilot of the St. Louis was killed,
and Foote, who stood beside him, wounded. The wheel-ropes of the
St. Louis, like those of the Louisville, were shot away. The
whole flotilla then retired, still firing hard; and the
Confederates wired a victory to Richmond.

Both sides now redoubled their efforts; for Donelson was a great
prize and the forces engaged were second only to those at Bull
Run. Afloat and ashore, all ranks and ratings on both sides
together, there were fifty thousand men present at the investment
from first to last. The Confederates began with about twenty
thousand, Grant with fifteen thousand. But Grant had twenty-seven
thousand fit for duty at the end, in spite of all his losses. He
was fortunate in his chief staff officer, the devoted and capable
John A. Rawlins, afterwards a general and Secretary of War. Two
of his divisional commanders, Lew Wallace and, still more, C.F.
Smith, the old Commandant of Cadets, were also first-rate. But
the third, McClernand, here began to follow those distorting
ideas which led to his dismissal later on. The three chief
Confederates ranked in reverse order of efficiency: Floyd first
and worst, cantankerous Pillow next, and Buckner best though

The Federal prospect was anything but bright on the evening of
the fourteenth. Foote had just been repulsed; while McClernand
had fought a silly little battle on his own account the day
before, to the delight of the Confederates and the grievous
annoyance of Grant. The fifteenth dawned on a scene of midwinter
discomfort in the Federal lines, where most of the rawest men had
neither great-coats nor blankets, having thrown them away during
the short march from Fort Henry, regardless of the fact that they
would have to bivouac at Donelson. Thus it was in no happy frame
of mind that Grant slithered across the frozen mud to see what
Foote proposed; and, when Foote explained that the gunboats would
take ten days for indispensable repairs, Grant resigned himself
to the very unwelcome idea of going through the long-drawn
horrors of a regular winter siege.

But, to his intense surprise, the enemy saved him the trouble. At
first, when they had a slight preponderance of numbers, they
stood fast and let Grant invest them. Now that he had the
preponderance they tried to cut their way out by the southern
road, upstream, where McClernand's division stood guard. As Grant
came ashore from his interview with Foote an aide met him with
the news that McClernand had been badly beaten and that the enemy
was breaking out. Grant set spurs to his horse and galloped the
four muddy miles to his left, where that admirable soldier, C.F.
Smith, was as cool and wary as ever, harassing the enemy's new
rear by threatening an assault, but keeping his division safe for
whatever future use Grant wanted. Wallace had also done the right
thing, pressing the enemy on his own front and sending a brigade
to relieve the pressure on McClernand. These two generals were in
conversation during a lull in the battle when Grant rode up,
calmly returned their salutes, attentively listened to their
reports, and then, instead of trying the Halleckian expedient of
digging in farther back before the enemy could make a second
rush, quietly said: "Gentlemen, the position on the right must be

Grant knew that Floyd was no soldier and that Pillow was a
stumbling-block. He read the enemy's mind like an open book and
made up his own at once by the flash of intuition which told him
that their men were mostly as much demoralized by finding their
first attempt at escape more than half a failure as even
McClernand's were by being driven back. He decided to use Smith's
fresh division for an assault in rear, while McClernand's,
stiffened by Wallace's, should re-form and hold fast. Before
leaving the excited officers and men, who were talking in groups
without thinking of their exhausted ammunition, he called out
cheerily "Fill your cartridge boxes quick, and get into line. The
enemy is trying to escape and he must not be permitted to do so."
McClernand's division, excellent men, but not yet disciplined
soldiers, responded at once to the touch of a master hand; and as
Grant rode off to Smith's he had the satisfaction of seeing the
defenseless groups melt, change, and harden into well-armed

Smith, ready at all points, had only to slip his own division
from the leash. Buckner, who was to have covered the Confederate
escape, was also ready with the guns of Fort Donelson and the
rifles of defenses that "looked too thick for a rabbit to get
through." Smith, knowing his unseasoned men would need the
example of a commander they could actually see, rode out in front
of his center as if at a formal review. "I was nearly scared to
death," said one of his followers, "but I saw the old man's white
moustache over his shoulder, and so I went on." As the line
neared the Confederate abatis a sudden gust of fire seemed to
strike it numb. In an instant Smith had his cap on the point of
his sword. Then, rising in his stirrups to his full gigantic
height, he shouted in stentorian tones: "No flinching now, my
lads! Here--this way in! Come on!" In, through, and out the other
side they went, Smith riding ahead, holding his sword and cap
aloft, and seeming to bear a charmed life amid that hail of
bullets. Up the slope he rode, the Confederates retiring before
him, till, unscathed, he reached the deadly crest, where the
Union colors waved defiance and the Union troops stood fast.

Floyd, being under special indictment at Washington for
misconduct as Secretary of War, was so anxious to escape that he
turned over the command to Pillow, who declined it in favor of
Buckner. That night Floyd and Pillow made off with all the river
steamers; Forrest's cavalry floundered past McClernand's exposed
flank, which rested on a shallow backwater; and Buckner was left
with over twelve thousand men to make what terms he could. Next
morning, the sixteenth, he wrote to Grant proposing the
appointment of commissioners to agree upon terms of surrender.
But Grant had made up his mind that compromise was out of place
in civil war and that absolute defeat or victory were the only
alternatives. So he instantly wrote back the famous letter which
quickly earned him the appropriate nickname--suggested by his own
initials--of Unconditional Surrender Grant.

Hd Qrs., Army in the Field
Camp near Donelson Feb'y 18th 1882

Gen. S.B. Buckner,
Confed. Army.

Sir: Yours of this date proposing armistice, and appointment of
Commissioners to settle terms of capitulation is just received.
No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be
accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works

I am, Sir, very respectfully,
Your obt. sert.,
Brig. Gen.

Grant and Buckner were old army friends; so their personal talk
was very pleasant at the little tavern where Buckner and his
staff had just breakfasted off corn bread and coffee, which was
all the Confederate stores afforded.

Donelson at once became, like Grant, a name to conjure with. The
fact that the Union had at last won a fight in which the numbers
neared, and the losses much exceeded, those at Bull Run itself,
the further fact that this victory made a fatal breach in the
defiant Southern line beyond the Alleghanies, and the delight of
discovering another, and this time a genuine, hero in
"Unconditional Surrender Grant," all combined to set the loyal
North aflame with satisfaction, pride, and joyful expectation.
Great things were expected in Virginia, where the invasion had
not yet begun. Great things were expected in the Gulf, where
Farragut had not yet tried the Mississippi. And great things were
expected to result from Donelson itself, whence the Union forces
were to press on south till they met other Union forces pressing
north. The river campaign was then to end in a blaze of glory.

Donelson did have important results. Johnston, who had already
abandoned Bowling Green for Nashville, had now to abandon
Nashville, with most of its great and very sorely needed stores,
as well as the rest of Tennessee, and take up a new position
along the rails that ran from Memphis to Chattanooga, whence they
forked northeast to Richmond and Washington and southeast to
Charleston and Savannah. Columbus was also abandoned, and the
only points left to the Confederates anywhere near the old line
were Island Number Ten in the Mississippi and the Boston
Mountains in Arkansas.

But the triumphant Union advance from the north did not take
place in '62. Grant was for pushing south as fast as possible to
attack the Confederates before they had time to defend their
great railway junction at Corinth. But Halleck was too cautious;
and misunderstandings, coupled with division of command, did the
rest. Halleck was the senior general in the West. But the three,
and afterwards four, departments into which the West was divided
were never properly brought under a single command. Then
telegrams went wrong at the wire-end advancing southwardly from
Cairo, the end Grant had to use. A wire from McClellan on the
sixteenth of February was not delivered till the third of March.
Next day Grant was thunderstruck at receiving this from Halleck:
"Place C.F. Smith in command of expedition and remain yourself at
Fort Henry. Why do you not obey my orders to report strength and
positions of your command?" And so it went on till McClellan
authorized Halleck to place Grant under arrest for
insubordination. Then the operator at the wire-end suddenly
deserted, taking a sheaf of dispatches with him. He was a clever

Explanations followed; and on the seventeenth of March Grant
rejoined his army, which was assembling round Pittsburg Landing
on the Tennessee, near the future battlefield of Shiloh, and some
twenty miles northeast of Corinth.

Meanwhile Van Dorn and Sterling Price, thinking it was now or
never for Missouri, decided to attack Curtis. They had fifteen
against ten thousand men, and hoped to crush Curtis utterly by
catching him between two fires. But on the seventh of March the
Federal left beat off the flanking attack of McCulloch and
McIntosh, both of whom were killed. The right, furiously assailed
by the Confederate Missourians under Van Dorn and Price, fared
badly and was pressed back. Yet on the eighth Curtis emerged
victorious on the hard-fought field that bears the double name of
Elkhorn Tavern and Pea Ridge. This battle in the northwest corner
of Arkansas settled the fate of Missouri.

A month later the final attack was made on Island Number Ten.
Foote's flotilla had been at work there as early as the middle of
March, when the strong Confederate batteries on the island and
east shore bluffs were bombarded by ironclads and mortarboats.
Then the Union General John Pope took post at New Madrid, eight
miles below the island, on the west shore, which the Confederates
had to evacuate when he cut their line of communications farther
south. They now held only the island and the east shore opposite,
with no line of retreat except the Mississippi, because the land
line on the east shore was blocked by swamps and flanked by the
Union armies in western Tennessee.

On the night of the fourth of April the Carondelet started to cut
this last line south. She was swathed in hawsers and chain
cables. Her decks were packed tight with every sort of gear that
would break the force of plunging shot; and a big barge, laden
with coal and rammed hay, was lashed to her port side to protect
her magazine. Twenty-three picked Illinoisian sharpshooters went
aboard; while pistols, muskets, cutlasses, boarding-pikes, and
hand grenades were placed ready for instant use. The escape-pipe
was led aft into the wheel-house, so as to deaden the noise; and
hose was attached to the boilers ready to scald any Confederates
that tried to board. Then, through the heart of a terrific
thunderstorm, and amid a furious cannonade, the Carondelet ran
the desperate gauntlet at full speed and arrived at New Madrid by

The Confederates were now cut off both above and below; for the
position of Island Number Ten was at the lower point of a
V-shaped bend in the Mississippi, with Federal forces at the two
upper points. But the Federal troops could not close on the
Confederates without crossing over to the east bank; and their
transports could not run the gauntlet like the ironclads. So the
Engineer Regiment of the West cut out a water road connecting the
two upper points of the V. This admirable feat of emergency field
engineering was effected by sawing through three miles of heavy
timber to the nearest bayou, whence a channel was cleared down to
New Madrid. Then the transports went through in perfect safety
and took Pope's advanced guard aboard. The ironclad Pittsburg had
come down, through another thunderstorm, this same morning of the
seventh; and when the island garrison saw their position
completely cut off they surrendered to Foote. Next day Pope's men
cut off the greater part of the Confederates on the mainland.
Thus fell the last point near Johnston's original line along the
southern borders of Missouri and Kentucky. Just before it fell
Johnston made a desperate counterattack from his new line at
Corinth, in northwest Mississippi, against Grant's encroaching
force at Shiloh, fifteen miles northeast, on the Tennessee River.

Writing "A. S. Johnston, 3d April, 62, en avant" on his pocket
map of Tennessee, the Confederate leader, anguished by the bitter
criticism with which his unavoidable retreat had been assailed,
cast the die for an immediate attack on Grant before slow Halleck
reinforced or ready Buell joined him. Johnston's lieutenants,
Beauregard and Bragg, had obtained ten days for reorganization;
and their commands were as ready as raw forces could be made in
an extreme emergency. They hoped to be joined by Van Dorn, whose
beaten army was working east from Pea Ridge. But on the second
they heard that Buell was approaching Grant from Nashville; and
on the third Johnston's advanced guard began to move off. Van
Dorn arrived too late.

The march, which it was hoped to complete on the fourth, was not
completed till the fifth. The roads were ankle-deep in clinging
mud, the country densely wooded and full of bogs and marshes. The
forty thousand men were not yet seasoned; and, though full of
enthusiasm, they neither knew nor had time to learn march
discipline. Moreover, Johnston allowed his own proper plan of
attacking in columns of corps to be changed by Beauregard into a
three-line attack, each line being formed by one complete corps.
This meant certain and perhaps disastrous confusion. For in an
attack by columns of corps the firing line would always be
reinforced by successive lines of the same corps; while attacking
by lines of corps meant that the leading corps would first be
mixed up with the second, and then both with the third.

In the meantime Grant was busier with his own pressing problems
of organization for an advance than with any idea of resisting
attack. He lacked the prevision of Winfield Scott and Lee, both
of whom expected from the first that the war would last for
years. His own expectation up to this had been that the South
would collapse after the first smashing blow, and that its
western armies were now about to be dealt such a blow. He was not
unmindful of all precautions; for he knew the Confederates were
stirring on his front. Yet he went downstream to Savannah without
making sure that his army was really safe at Shiloh.

Pittsburg Landing was at the base of the Shiloh position. But the
point at which, by the original orders, Buell was to join was
Savannah, nine miles north along the Tennessee. So Grant had to
keep in touch with both. He had not ignored the advantage of
entrenching. But the best line for entrenching was too far from
good water; and he thought he chose the lesser of two evils when
he devoted the time that might have been used for digging to
drilling instead. His army was raw as an army; many of the men
were still rawer recruits; and, as usual, the recruiting
authorities had sent him several brand-new battalions, which knew
nothing at all, instead of sending the same men as reinforcements
to older battalions that could "learn 'em how." Grant's total
effectives at first were only thirty-three thousand. This made
the odds five to four in favor of Johnston's attack. But the
rejoining of Lew Wallace's division, the great reinforcement by
Buell's troops, and the two ironclad gunboats on the river,
raised Grant's final effective grand total to sixty thousand. The
combined grand totals therefore reached a hundred
thousand--double the totals at Donelson and far exceeding those
at Bull Run.

After a horrible week of cold and wet the sun set clear and calm
on Saturday, the eve of battle. The woods were alive with forty
thousand Confederates all ready for their supreme attack on the
thirty-three thousand Federals on their immediate four-mile
front. Grant's front ran, facing south, between Owl and Lick
Creeks, two tributaries that joined the Tennessee on either side
of Pittsburg Landing. Buell's advance division, under Nelson, was
just across the Tennessee. But Grant was in no hurry to get it
over. His reassuring wire that night to Halleck said: "The main
force of the enemy is at Corinth. I have scarcely the faintest
idea of an attack (general one) being made upon us." But the
skirmishing farther south on Friday had warned Grant, as well as
Sherman and the vigilant Prentiss, that Johnston might be trying
a reconnaissance in force--the very thing that Beauregard wished
the Confederates to do.

Long before the beautiful dawn of Sunday, the fateful sixth of
April, Prentiss had thrown out from the center a battalion which
presently met and drove in the vanguard of the first Confederate
line of assault. The Confederate center soon came up, overwhelmed
this advanced battalion, and burst like a storm on the whole of
Prentiss's division. Then, above the swelling roar of
multitudinous musketry, rose the thunder of the first big guns.
"Note the hour, please, gentlemen," said Johnston; and a member
of his staff wrote down: "5:14 A.M."

Johnston's admirable plan was, first, to drive Grant's left clear
of Lick Creek, then drive it clear of Pittsburg Landing, where
the two Federal ironclads were guarding the ferry. This, combined
with a determined general assault on the rest of Grant's line,
would huddle the retreating Federals into the cramped angle
between Owl Creek and the Tennessee and force them to surrender.
But there were three great obstacles to this: Sherman on the
right, the "Hornet's Nest" in the center, and the gunboats at the
Landing. Worse still for the Confederates, Buell was now too
close at hand. Three days earlier Johnston had wired from Corinth
to the Government at Richmond: "Hope engagement before Buell can
form junction." But the troubles of the march had lost him one
whole priceless day.

The Confederate attack was splendidly gallant and at first pushed
home regardless of loss. The ground was confusing to both sides:
a bewilderment of ups and downs, of underbrush, woods, fields,
and clumps of trees, criss-cross paths, small creeks, ravines,
and swamps, without a single commanding height or any outstanding
features except the two big creeks, the river, and the Pittsburg

At the first signs of a big battle Grant hurried to the field,
first sending a note to Buell, whom he was to have met at
Savannah, then touching at Crump's Landing on the way, to see Lew
Wallace and make sure whether this, and not the Pittsburg
Landing, was the point of attack. Arrived on the field of Shiloh,
calm and determined as ever, he was reassured by finding how well
Sherman was holding his raw troops in hand at the extremely
important point of Shiloh itself, next to Owl Creek.

But elsewhere the prospect was not encouraging, though the men
got under arms very fast and most of them fought very well. The
eager gray lines kept pressing on like the rising tide of an
angry sea, dashing in fury against all obstructing fronts and
swirling round the disconnecting flanks. The blue lines, for the
most part, resisted till the swift gray tide threatened to cut
them off. Half of Prentiss's remaining men were in fact cut off
that afternoon and forced to surrender with their chief, whose
conduct, like their own, was worthy of all praise. Back and still
back the blue lines went before the encroaching gray, each losing
heavily by sheer hard fighting at the front and streams of
stragglers running towards the rear.

Sherman, like others, gave ground, but still held his men
together, except for the stragglers he could not control. In the
center C.F. Smith's division, with Hurlbut's in support, and all
that was left of Prentiss's, defended themselves so desperately
that their enemies called their position the Hornet's Nest. Here
the fight swayed back and forth for hours, with ghastly losses on
both sides. C.F. Smith himself was on his deathbed at Savannah.
But he heard the roar of battle. His excellent successor, W.H.L.
Wallace, was killed; and battalions, brigades, and even
divisions, soon became inextricably mixed together. There was now
the same confusion on the Confederate side, where Johnston was
wounded by a bullet from the Hornet's Nest. It was not in itself
a mortal wound. But, knowing how vital this point was, he went on
encouraging his men till, falling from the saddle, he was carried
back to die.

Grant still felt confident; though he had seen the worst in the
rear as well as the best at the front. Two of his brand-new
battalions, the very men who afterwards fought like heroes, when
they had learned the soldier's work, now ran like hares. "During
the day," says Grant, "I rode back as far as the river and met
General Buell, who had just arrived. There probably were as many
as four or five thousand stragglers lying under cover of the
river bluff, panic-stricken. As we left the boat Buell's
attention was attracted by these men. I saw him berating them and
trying to shame them into joining their regiments. He even
threatened them with shells from the gunboats nearby. But all to
no effect. Most of these men afterward proved themselves as
gallant as any of those who saved the battle from which they had

By half-past five, after twelve hours' fighting, Grant at last
succeeded in forming a new and shorter line, a mile behind that
morning's front, but without any dangerous gaps. There were three
reorganized divisions--Sherman's, McClernand's, and Hurlbut's,
one fresh division under Nelson, and a strong land battery of
over twenty field guns helping the two ironclad gunboats in the
defense of Pittsburg Landing. The Confederate effectives, reduced
by heavy losses and by as many stragglers as the Federals, were
now faced by five thousand fresh men on guard at the Landing.
Beauregard, who had succeeded Johnston, then stopped the battle
for the day, with the idea of retiring next morning to Corinth.
But, before his orders reached it, his battleworn right made a
desperate, fruitless, and costly attack on the immensely
strengthened Landing.

That night the rain came down in torrents; and the Confederates
sought shelter in the tents the Federals had abandoned. They
found little rest there, being harassed all through the bleak
dark by the big shells that the gunboats threw among them.

At dawn Grant, now reinforced by twenty-five thousand fresh men
under Buell and Lew Wallace, took the offensive. Beauregard,
hopelessly outnumbered and without a single fresh man, retired on
Corinth, magnificently covered by Bragg's rearguard, which held
the Federals back for hours near the crucial point of Shiloh

Shiloh was the fiercest battle ever fought in the River War. The
losses were over ten thousand a side in killed and wounded; while
a thousand Confederates and three thousand Federals were
captured. It was a Confederate failure; but hardly the kind of
victory the Federals needed just then, before the consummate
triumph of Farragut at New Orleans. It brought together Federal
forces that the Confederates could not possibly withstand, even
on their new line east from Memphis. But it did not raise the
Federal, or depress the Confederate, morale.

Four days after the battle Halleck arrived at Pittsburg Landing
and took command of the combined armies. He was soon reinforced
by Pope; whereupon he divided the whole into right and left
wings, center, and reserve, each under its own commander. Grant
was made second in command of the whole. But, as Halleck dealt
directly with his other immediate subordinates, Grant simply
became the fifth wheel of the Halleckian slowcoach, which, after
twenty days of preparation, began, with most elaborate
precautions, its crawl toward Corinth.

Grant's position became so nearly unbearable that he applied more
than once for transfer to some other place. But this was refused.
So he strove to do his impossible duty till the middle of July,
when his punishment for Shiloh was completed by his promotion to
command a depleted remnant of Halleck's Grand Army. It is not by
any means the least of Grant's claims to real greatness that, as
a leader, he was able to survive his most searching trials: the
surprise at Shiloh, the misunderstandings and arrest that
followed Shiloh, the slur of being made a fifth-wheel
second-in-command, the demoralizing strain of that "most anxious
period of the war" when his depleted forces were thrown back on
the defensive, and the eight discouraging months of Sisyphean
offensive which preceded his triumph at Vicksburg. No one who has
not been in the heart of things with fighting fleets or armies
can realize what it means to all ranks when there is, or even is
supposed to be, "something wrong" with the living pivot on which
the whole force turns. And only those who have been behind the
scenes of war's all-testing drama can understand what it means
for even an imagined "failure" to "come back."

Corinth was of immense importance to both sides, as it commanded
the rails not only east and west, from the Tennessee to Memphis,
but north and south, from the Ohio to New Orleans and Mobile.
Though New Orleans was taken by Farragut on the twenty-fifth of
April, the rails between Vicksburg and Port Hudson remained in
Confederate hands till next year; while Mobile remained so till
the year after that.

Beauregard collected all the troops he could at Corinth. Yet,
even with Van Dorn's and other reinforcements, he had only sixty
thousand effectives against Halleck's double numbers. Moreover,
the loss of three States and many battles had so shaken the
Confederate forces that they stood no chance whatever against
Halleck's double numbers in the open. All the same, Halleck
burrowed slowly forward like a mole, entrenching every night as
if the respective strengths and victories had been reversed.

After advancing nearly a mile a day Halleck closed in on Corinth.
He was so deeply entrenched that no one could tell from
appearances which side was besieging the other. Towards the end
of May many Federal railwaymen reported that empty trains could
be heard running into Corinth and full trains running out. But,
as the Confederates greeted each arriving "empty" with tremendous
Cheers, Halleck felt sure that Beauregard was being greatly
reinforced. The Confederate bluff worked to admiration. On the
twenty-sixth Beauregard issued orders for complete evacuation on
the twenty-ninth. On the thirtieth Halleck drew up his whole
grand army ready for a desperate defense against an enemy that
had already gone a full day's march away.

In the meantime the Federal flotilla had been fighting its way
down the Mississippi, under (the invalided) Foote's very capable
successor, Flag-Officer Charles Henry Davis. The Confederates had
very few naval men on the river, but many of their Mississippi
skippers were game to the death. They rammed Federal vessels on
the tenth of May at Fort Pillow, eighty miles above Memphis.
Eight of their fighting craft were strongly built and heavily
armored, though very deficient in speed. The Federal flotilla was
very well manned by first-class naval ratings, and was reinforced
early in June by seven fast new rams, commanded by their
designer, Colonel Charles Ellet, a famous civil engineer.

At sunrise on the lovely sixth of June the Federal flotilla,
having overcome the Confederate posts farther north and being
joined by Ellet's rams, lay near Memphis. The Confederates came
upstream to the attack, expecting to ram the gunboats in the
stern as they had at Fort Pillow. But Ellet suddenly darted down
on the eight Confederate ironclads, caught one of them on the
broadside, sank her, and disabled two others. The action then
became general. The overmatched Confederates kept up a losing
battle for more than an hour, in full view of many thousands of
ardent Southerners ashore. The scene, at its height, was
appalling. The smoke, belching black from the funnels and white
from the guns, made a suffocating pall overhead; while the dark,
squat, hideous ironclad hulls seemed to have risen from a
submarine inferno to stab each other with livid tongues of
flame--so deadly close the two flotillas fought. When the awful
hour was over the Confederates were not only defeated but
destroyed; and a wail went up from the thousands of their
anguished friends, as if the very shores were mourning.

For the next month Grant held the command at Memphis. Then, on
the eleventh of July, Halleck was recalled to Washington as
General-in-Chief of the whole army; while Pope was transferred to
Virginia. The Federal invasion of Virginia under that "Young
Napoleon," McClellan, had not been a success against Lee and
Stonewall Jackson. Nor did it improve with Pope at the front and
Halleck in the rear, as we shall presently see; though Halleck
had declared that Pope's operations at Island Number Ten were
destined to immortal fame, and Pope himself admitted his own
greatness in sundry proclamations to the world.

The campaign now entered its second phase. The Virginian wing (of
the whole front reaching from the Mississippi to the sea) was
checked this summer; and was to remain more or less checked for
many a long day. The river wing, under the general direction of
Halleck, had also reached its limit for '62 about the same time,
after having conquered Kentucky and western Tennessee as well as
the Mississippi down to Memphis.

This river wing was now depleted of some excellent troops and
again divided into quite separate commands. Buell commanded the
Army of the Ohio. Grant commanded his own Army of the Tennessee
and Rosecrans's Army of the Mississippi. Buell's scene of action
lay between the tributary streams--Ohio, Cumberland, and
Tennessee--with Chattanooga as his ultimate objective. Grant's
scene of action lay along the southward rails and Mississippi,
with Vicksburg as his ultimate objective.

The Confederates were of course set on recovering complete
control of the line of Southern rails that made direct
connections between the Mississippi Valley and the sea: crossing
the western tributaries of the St. Francis and White Rivers; then
running east from Memphis, through Grand Junction, Corinth, and
Iuka, to Chattanooga; thence forking off northeast, through
Knoxville, to Washington, Richmond, and Norfolk; and southeast to
Charleston and Savannah. Confederate attention had originally
been fixed on Corinth and Chattanooga. But General O. M.
Mitchel's abortive raid, just after Shiloh, had also drawn it to
the part between. The Federals therefore found their enemy alert
at every point.

Braxton Bragg, Beauregard's successor and Buell's opponent,
basing himself on Chattanooga, tried to drive his line of
Confederate reconquest through the heart of Tennessee and thence
through mid-Kentucky, with the Ohio as his ultimate objective.
His colleagues near the Mississippi, Van Dorn and Sterling Price,
meanwhile tried to effect the reconquest of the Memphis-Corinth
rails that Grant and Rosecrans were holding.

All main offensives, on both sides, ultimately failed in this
latter half of the river campaign of '62. So nothing but the bare
fact that they were attempted needs any notice here.

In August, about the time that Lee and Jackson were maneuvering
in Virginia to bring on the Second Bull Run, Price and Bragg
began their respective advances against Grant and Buell. Buell
was at Murfreesboro, defending Nashville. Bragg, screened by the
hills of eastern Tennessee, made for the Ohio at Louisville and
Cincinnati. Pivoting on his left he wheeled his whole army round
and raced for Louisville. Buell enjoyed the advantage of rails
over roads and of interior lines as well. But Bragg had stolen
several marches on him at the start and he only won by a head.

The Union Government, now thoroughly alarmed, sent Thomas to
supersede Buell. But Thomas declined to take over the command,
and on the eighth of October Buell fought Bragg at Perryville.
There was no tactical defeat or victory; but Bragg retired on
Chattanooga. The Government now urged Buell to enter east
Tennessee. He protested that lack of transport and supplies made
such a move impossible. William S. Rosecrans then replaced him.
Buell was never employed again. He certainly failed fully to
appreciate the legitimate bearing of statesmanship on strategy;
but, for all that, he was an excellent organizer and a good

In the meantime Grant had been experiencing his "most anxious
period of the war." During this anxious period, which lasted from
July to October, Rosecrans defeated Price at Iuka. This happened
on the nineteenth of September. Van Dorn then joined Price and
returned to the attack but was defeated by Rosecrans at Corinth
on the fourth of October. The Confederates, who had come near
victory on the third, retired in safety, because Grant still
lacked the means of resuming the offensive.

As soon as he had the means Grant marched his army south for
Vicksburg. There were three converging forces: Grant's from Grand
Junction, Sherman's from Memphis, and a smaller one from Helena
in Arkansas. But the Confederate General, J.C. Pemberton, who had
replaced Van Dorn, escaped the trap they tried to set for him. He
was strongly entrenched on the south side of the Tallahatchie,
north of Oxford, on the Mississippi Central rails. While Grant
and Sherman converged on his front, the force from Helena rounded
his rear and cut the rails. But the damage was quickly repaired;
and Pemberton retired south toward Vicksburg before Grant and
Sherman could close and make him fight.

Then Grant tried again. This time Sherman advanced on board of
Mississippi steamers, with the idea of meeting the Union
expedition coming up from New Orleans. But Van Dorn cut Grant's
long line of land communications at Holly Springs, forcing Grant
back for supplies and leaving Sherman, who had made his way up
the Yazoo, completely isolated. Grant fared well enough, so far
as food was concerned; for he found such abundant supplies that
he at once perceived the possibility of living on the country
without troubling about a northern base. He spent Christmas and
New Year at Holly Springs, and then moved back to Memphis.

In the meantime Sherman's separated force had come to grief. On
the twenty-ninth of December its attempt to carry the Chickasaw
Bluffs, just north of Vicksburg, was completely frustrated by
Pemberton; for Sherman could not deploy into line on the few
causeways that stood above the flooded ground.

On the eleventh of January this first campaign along the
Mississippi was ended by the capture of Arkansas Post. McClernand
was the senior there. But Sherman did the work ashore as D. D.
Porter did afloat.

Meanwhile Bragg had brought the campaign to a close among the
eastern tributaries by a daring, though abortive, march on
Nashville. Rosecrans, now commanding the army of the Cumberland,
stopped and defeated him at Stone's River on New Year's Eve.

The "War in the West," that is, in those parts of the Southwest
which lay beyond the navigable tributaries of the Mississippi
system, was even more futile at the time and absolutely null in
the end. Its scene of action, which practically consisted of
inland Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, was not in itself
important enough to be a great determining factor in the actual
clash of arms. But Texas supplied many good men to the Southern
ranks; and the Southern commissariat missed the Texan cattle
after the fall of Vicksburg in '63. New Mexico might also have
been a good deal more important than it actually was if it could
have been made the base of a real, instead of an abortive,
invasion of California, the El Dorado of Confederate finance.

We have already seen what happened on February 15, 1861, when
General Twiggs handed over to the State authorities all the army
posts in Texas. On the first of the following August Captain John
R. Baylor, who had been forming a little Confederate army under
pretext of a big buffalo hunt, proclaimed himself Governor of New
Mexico (south of 34 degrees) and established his capital at
Mesilla. In the meantime the Confederate Government itself had
appointed General H.H. Sibley to the command of a brigade for the
conquest of all New Mexico. Not ten thousand men were engaged in
this campaign, Federals and Confederates, whites and Indians, all
together; but a decisive Confederate success might have been
pregnant of future victories farther west. Some Indians fought on
one side, some on the other; and some of the wilder tribes,
delighted to see the encroaching whites at loggerheads, gave
trouble to both.

On February 21, 1862, Sibley defeated Colonel E.R.S. Canby at
Valverde near Fort Craig. But his further advance was hindered by
the barrenness of the country, by the complete destruction of all
Union stores likely to fall into his hands, and by the fact that
he was between two Federal forts when the battle ended. On the
twentyeighth of March there was a desperate fight in Apache
Canon. Both sides claimed the victory. But the Confederates lost
more men as well as the whole of their supply and ammunition
train. After this Sibley began a retreat which ended in May at
San Antonio. His route was marked by bleaching skeletons for many
a long day; and from this time forward the conquest of California
became nothing but a dream.

The "War in the West" was a mere twig on the Trans-Mississippi
branch; and when the fall of Vicksburg severed the branch from
the tree the twig simply withered away.

The sword that ultimately severed branch and twig was firmly held
by Union hands before the year was out; and this notwithstanding
all the Union failures in the last six months. Grant and Porter
from above, Banks and Farragut from below, had already massed
forces strong enough to make the Mississippi a Union river from
source to sea, in spite of all Confederates from Vicksburg to
Port Hudson.


Lincoln was one of those men who require some mighty crisis to
call their genius forth. Though more successful than Grant in
ordinary life, he was never regarded as a national figure in law
or poli tics till he had passed his fiftieth year. He had no
advantages of birth; though he came of a sturdy old English stock
that emigrated from Norfolk to Massachusetts in the seventeenth
century, and though his mother seems to have been, both in
tellectually and otherwise, above the general run of the
Kentuckians among whom he was born in 1809. His educational
advantages were still less. Yet he soon found his true amities in
books, as afterwards in life, not among the clever, smart, or
sentimental, but among the simple and the great. He read and
reread Shakespeare and the Bible, not because they were the
merely proper things to read but because his spirit was akin to
theirs. This meant that he never was a bookworm. Words were
things of life to him; and, for that reason, his own words live.

He had no artificial graces to soften the uncouth appearance of
his huge, gaunt six-foot-four of powerful bone and muscle. But he
had the native dignity of straightforward manhood; and, though a
champion competitor in feats of strength, his opinion was always
sought as that of an impartial umpire, even in cases affecting
himself. He "played the game" in his frontier home as he
afterwards played the greater game of life-or-death at
Washington. His rough-hewn, strong-featured face, shaped by his
kindly humor to the finer ends of power, was lit by a steady gaze
that saw yet looked beyond, till the immediate parts of the
subject appeared in due relation to the whole. Like many another
man who sees farther and feels more deeply than the rest, and who
has the saving grace of humor, he knew what yearning melancholy
was; yet kept the springs of action tense and strong. Firm as a
rock on essentials he was extremely tolerant about all minor
differences. His policy was to live and let live whenever that
was possible. The preservation of the Union was his
master-passion, and he was ready for any honorable compromise
that left the Union safe. Himself a teetotaller, he silenced a
temperance delegation whose members were accusing Grant of
drunkenness by saying he should like to send some of his other
generals a keg of the same whisky if it would only make them

When he took arms against the sea of troubles that awaited him at
Washington he had dire need of all his calm tolerance and
strength. To add to his burdens, he was beset by far more than
the usual horde of officeseekers. These men were doubly ravenous
because their party was so new to power. They were peculiarly
hard to place with due regard for all the elements within the
coalition. And each appointment needed most discriminating care,
lest a traitor to the Union might creep in. While the guns were
thundering against Fort Sumter, and afterwards, when the Union
Government was marooned in Washington itself, the vestibules,
stairways, ante-rooms, and offices were clogged with eager
applicants for every kind of civil service job. And then, when
this vast human flood subsided, the "interviewing" stream began
to flow and went on swelling to the bitter end. These war-time
interviewers claimed most of Lincoln's personal attention just
when he had the least to spare. But he would deny no one the
chance of receiving presidential aid or comfort and he gladly
suffered many fools for the chance of relieving the sad or
serious others. Add to all this the ceaseless work of helping to
form public opinion, of counteracting enemy propaganda, of
shaping Union policy under ever-changing circumstances, of
carrying it out by coalition means, and of exercising civil
control over such vast armed forces as no American had hitherto
imagined: add these extra burdens, and we can begin to realize
what Lincoln had to do as the chief war statesman of the North.

A sound public opinion is the best embattlement of any home
front. So Lincoln set out to help in forming it. War on a
national scale was something entirely new to both sides, and
especially unwelcome to many people in the North, though the
really loyal North was up at Lincoln's call. Then came Bull Run;
and Lincoln's renewed determination, so well expressed in
Whitman's words: "The President, recovering himself, begins that
very night--sternly, rapidly sets about the task of reorganizing
his forces, and placing himself in positions for future and surer
work. If there was nothing else of Abraham Lincoln for history to
stamp him with, it is enough to send him with his wreath to the
memory of all future time, that he endured that hour, that day,
bitterer than gall--indeed a crucifixion day--that it did not
conquer him that he unflinchingly stemmed it, and resolved to
lift himself and the Union out of it."

Bull Run was only the beginning of troubles. There were many more
rocks ahead in the stormy sea of public opinion. The peace party
was always ready to lure the ship of state out of its true course
by using false lights, even when certain to bring about a
universal wreck in which the "pacifists" would suffer with the
rest. But dissensions within the war party were worse, especially
when caused by action in the field. Fremont's dismissal in
November, '61, caused great dissatisfaction among three kinds of
people: those who thought him a great general because he knew how
to pose as one and really had some streaks of great ability,
those who were fattening on the army contracts he let out with
such a lavish hand, and those who hailed him as the liberator of
the slaves because he went unwarrantably far beyond what was then
politically wise or even possible. He was the first Unionist
commander to enter the Northern Cave of Adullam, already infested
with Copperhead snakes.

There he was joined by McClellan exactly a year later; and there
the peace-at-current-prices party continued to nurse and cry
their grievances till the war was over. McClellan's dismissal was
a matter of dire necessity because victory was impossible under
his command. But he was a dangerous reinforcement to the
Adullamites; for many of the loyal public had been fooled by his
proclamations, the press had written him up to the skies as the
Young Napoleon, and the great mass of the rank and file still
believed in him. He took the kindly interest in camp comforts
that goes to the soldier's heart; and he really did know how to
organize. Add his power of passing off tinsel promises for golden
deeds, and it can be well understood how great was the danger of
dismissing him before his defects had become so apparent to the
mass of people as to have turned opinion decisively against him.
We shall presently meet him in his relation to Lincoln during the
Virginian campaign, and later on in his relation to Lee. Here we
may leave him with the reminder that he was the Democratic
candidate for President in '64, that he was still a mortal danger
to the Union, even though he had rejected the actual wording of
his party's peace plank.

The turn of the tide at the fighting front came in '63; but not
at the home front, where public opinion of the most vocal kind
was stirred to its dregs by the enforcement of the draft. The
dime song books of the Copperhead parts of New York expressed in
rude rhymes very much the same sort of apprehension that was
voiced by the official opposition in the Presidential campaign of

Abram Lincoln, what yer 'bout?
Stop this war, for it's played out.

Another rhyme, called "The Beauties of Conscription," was a more
decorous expression of such public opinion.

And this, the "People's Sovereignty,"
Before a despot humbled!
. . . .
Well have they cashed old Lincoln's drafts,
Hurrah for the Conscription!
. . . .
Is not this war--this MURDER--for
The negro, nolens volens?

So, carrying out their ideas to the same sort of logical
conclusion, the New York mob of '63 not only burnt every
recruiting office they found undefended but burnt the negro
orphan asylum and killed all the negroes they could lay their
hands on.

Public opinion did veer round a little with the rising tide of
victory in the winter of '63 and '64. But, incredible as it may
seem to those who think the home front must always reflect the
fighting front, the nadir of public opinion in the North was
reached in the summer of '64, when every expert knew that the
resources of the South were nearing exhaustion and that the
forces of the North could certainly wear out Lee's dwindling army
even if they could not beat it. The trumpet gave no uncertain
sound from Lincoln's lips. "In this purpose to save the country
and its liberties no class of people seem so nearly unanimous as
the soldiers in the field and the sailors afloat. Do they not
have the hardest of it? Who should quail while they do not?" But
the mere excellence of a vast fighting front means a certain loss
of the nobler qualities in the home front, from which so many of
the staunchest are withdrawn. And then warweariness breeds
doubts, doubts breed fears, and fears breed the spirit of

There seemed to be more Copperheads in the conglomerate
opposition than Unionists ready to withstand them. The sinister
figure of Vallandigham loomed large in Ohio, where he openly
denounced the war in such disloyal terms that the military
authorities arrested him. An opposition committee, backed by the
snakes in the grass of the secret societies, at once wrote to
Lincoln demanding release. Lincoln thereupon offered release if
the committee would sign a declaration that, since rebellion
existed, and since the armed forces of the United States were the
constitutional means of suppressing rebellion, each member of the
committee would support the war till rebellion was put down. The
committee refused to sign. More people then began to see the
self-contradictions of the opposition, and most of those "plain
people" to whom Lincoln consciously appealed were touched to the
heart by his pathetic question: "Must I shoot the simpleminded
soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of the
wily agitator who induces him to desert?"

But there was still defection on the Union side, and among many
"plain people" too; for Horace Greeley, the best-known Union
editor, lost his nerve and ran away. And Greeley was not the only
Union journalist who helped, sometimes unwittingly, to pervert
public opinion. The "writing up" of McClellan for what he was
not, though rather hysterical, was at least well meant. But the
reporters who "wrote down" General Cox, because he would not make
them members of his staff in West Virginia, disgraced their
profession. The lies about Sherman's "insanity" and Grant's
"intoxication" were shamelessly excused on the plea that they
made "good stories." Sherman's insanity, as we have seen already,
existed only in the disordered imagination of blabbing old Simon
Cameron. Grant, at the time these stories were published, was
strictly temperate.

Amid all the hindrances--and encouragements, for the Union press
generally did noble service in the Union cause--of an uncensored
press, and all the complexities of public opinion, Lincoln kept
his head and heart set firmly on the one supreme objective of the
Union. He foresaw from the first that if all the States came
through the war United, then all the reforms for which the war
was fought would follow; but that if any particular reform was
itself made the supreme objective, then it, and with it all the
other reforms, would fail, because only part of the Union
strength would be involved, whereas the whole was needed.
Moreover, he clearly foresaw the absolute nature of a great civil
war. Foreign wars may well, and often do, end in some sort of
compromise, especially when the home life of the opponents can go
on as before. But a great civil war cannot end in compromise
because it radically changes the home life of one side or the
other. Davis stood for "Independence or extermination"; Lincoln
simply for the Union, which, in his clear prevision, meant all
that the body politic could need for a new and better life. He
accepted the word "enemy" as descriptive of a passing phase. He
would not accept such phraseology as Meade's, "driving the
invader from our soil." "Will our generals," he complained,
"never get that idea out of their heads? The whole country is our

He was a life-long advocate of Emancipation, first, with
compensation, now as part of the price to be paid for rebellion.
Emancipation, however, depended on the Union, not the Union on
it. His Proclamation was ready in the summer of '62. But to
publish it in the midst of defeat would make it look like an act
of despair. In September, when the Confederates had to recross
the Potomac after Antietam, the Proclamation was given to the
world. Its first effect was greater abroad than at home; for now
no foreign government could say, and rightly say, that the war,
not being fought on account of slavery, might leave that issue
still unsettled. This was a most important point in Lincoln's
foreign policy, a policy which had been haunted by the fear of
recognition for the South or the possibility of war with either
the French or British, or even both together.

Lincoln's Cabinet was composed of two factions, one headed by
Seward, the Secretary of State, the other by Chase, the Secretary
of the Treasury. Both the fighting services were under War
Democrats: the Army under Stanton, the Navy under Welles. All
these ministers began by thinking that Lincoln had the least
ability among them. Seward and Welles presently learnt better.
Stanton's exclamation at Lincoln's death speaks for itself "Now
he belongs to the ages!" But Chase never believed that Lincoln
could even be his equal. Chase and the Treasury were a thorn in
the side of the Government; Chase because it was his nature, the
Treasury because its notes fell to thirty-nine cents in the
dollar during the summer of '64. Welles, hard-working and
upright, was guided by an expert assistant. Stanton, equally
upright and equally hardworking, made many mistakes. And yet,
when all is said and done, Stanton was a really able patriot who
worked his hardest for what seemed to him the best.

Such were the four chief men in that Cabinet with which Lincoln
carried out his Union policy and over which he towered in what
became transcendent statesmanship--the head, the heart, the
genius of the war. He never, for one moment, changed his course,
but kept it fixed upon the Union, no matter what the winds and
tides, the currents and cross-currents were. Thus, while so many
lesser minds were busy with flotsam and jetsam of the
controversial storm, his own serener soul was already beyond the
far horizon, voyaging toward the one sure haven for the Ship of

But Lincoln was more than the principal civilian war statesman:
he was the constitutional Commander-in-Chief of all the Union
forces, afloat and ashore. He was responsible not only for
raising, supplying, and controlling them, but for their actual
command by men who, in the eyes of the law, were simply his own
lieutenants. The problem of exercising civil control without
practicing civilian interference, always and everywhere hard, and
especially hard in a civil war, was particularly hard in his
case, in view of public opinion, the press, his own war policy,
and the composition of his Cabinet. His solution was by no means
perfect; but the wonder is that he reached it so well in spite of
such perverting factors. He began with the mere armed mob that
fought the First Bull Run beset with interference. He ended with
Farragut, Grant, and Sherman, combined in one great scheme of
strategy that included Mobile, Virginia, and the lower South, and
that, while under full civil control, was mostly free from
interference with its naval and military work--except at the
fussy hands of Stanton.

The fundamental difference between civil control, which is the
very breath of freedom, and civilian interference, which means
the death of all efficiency, can be quite simply illustrated by
supposing the proverbial Ship of State to be a fighting
man-of-war. The People are the owners, with all an owner's
rights; while their chosen Government is their agent, with all an
agent's delegated power. The fighting Services, as the word
itself so properly implies, are simply the People's servants,
though they take their orders from the Government. So far, so
good, within the limits of civil control, under which, and which
alone, any national resources--in men, money, or material--can
lawfully be turned to warlike ends. But when the ship is fitting
out, still more when she is out at sea, and most of all when she
is fighting, then she should be handled only by her expert
captain with his expert crew. Civilian interference begins the
moment any inexpert outsider takes the captain's place; and this
interference is no less disastrous when the outsider remains at
home than when he is on the actual spot.

Lincoln and Stanton were out of their element in the strategic
fight with Lee and Stonewall Jackson, as the next chapter
abundantly proves. But they will bear, and more than bear,
comparison with Davis and Benjamin, their own special "opposite
numbers." Benjamin, when Confederate Secretary of War in '62,
nearly drove Jackson out of the service by ordering him to follow
the advice of some disgruntled subordinates who objected to being
moved about for strategic reasons which they could not
understand. To make matters worse, Benjamin sent this precious
order direct to Jackson without even informing his immediate
superior, "Joe" Johnston, or even Lee himself. Thus discipline,
the very soul of armies, was attacked from above and beneath by
the man who should have been its chief upholder. Luckily for the
South things were smoothed over, and Benjamin learnt something he
should have known at first. Davis had none of Lincoln's
diffidence about his own capacity for directing the strategy of
armies. He had passed through West Point and commanded a
battalion in Mexico without finding out that his fitness stopped
there. He interfered with Lee and Jackson, sometimes to almost a
disabling extent. He forced his enmity on "Joe" Johnston and
superseded him at the very worst time in the final campaign. He
interfered more than ever just when Lee most required a free
hand. And when he did make Lee a real Commander-in-Chief the
Southern cause had been lost already. Lincoln's war statesmanship
grew with the war. Davis remained as he was.

Lincoln had to meet the difficulties that always occur when
professionals and amateurs are serving together. How much
Lincoln, Stanton, professionals, and amateurs had to do with the
system that was evolved under great stress is far too complex for
discussion here. Suffice it to say this: Lincoln's clear insight
and openness of mind enabled him to see the universal truth,
that, other things being equal, the trained and expert
professional must excel the untrained and inexpert amateur. But
other things are never precisely equal; and a war in which the
whole mass-manhood is concerned brings in a host of amateurs.
Lincoln was as devoid of prejudice against the regular officers
as he was against any other class of men; and he was ready to try
and try again to find a satisfactory commander among them, in
spite of many failures. The plan of campaign proposed by General
Winfield Scott (and ultimately carried out in a modified form)
was dubbed by wiseacre public men the "Anaconda policy"; witlings
derided it, and the people were too impatient for anything except
"On to Richmond!" Scott, unable to take the field at seventyfive,
had no second-in-command. Halleck was a very poor substitute
later on. In the meantime McDowell was chosen and generously
helped by Lincoln and Stanton. But after Bull Run the very people
whose impatience made victory impossible howled him down.


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