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The Monitor and the Virginia.
side, and the gallant ship went down with a hundred men of her crew on board. The Virginia next attacked the Federal ship Congress. At a distance of two hundred yards she opened her guns upon this ill-fated vessel. The Congress was aground, and could offer no effective resistance. After sustaining heavy loss, she was forced to surrender. Night approached, and the Virginia drew off, intending to resume her work on the morrow.
Early next morning — a bright Sunday morning — she steamed out, and made for the Minnesota, a Federal ship which had been grounded to get beyond her reach. The Minnesota was still aground and helpless. Beside her, however, as the men on board the Virginia observed, lay a mysterious structure, resembling nothing they had ever seen before. Her deck was scarcely visible above the water, and it supported nothing but an iron turret nine feet high. This was the Monitor, designed by Captain Ericsson ; the first of the class of iron-clad turret-ships, which are destined, probably, to be the fighting-ships of the future, so long as the world is foolish enough to need ships for fighting purposes. By a singular chance she had arrived thus opportunely. The two iron-clads measured their strength in combat. But their shot produced no impression, and after two hours of heavy but ineffective firing, they separated, and the Virginia retired up the James River.
This fight opened a new era in naval warfare. The Washington government hastened to build turret-ships. All European governments, perceiving the worthlessness of ships of the old type, proceeded to reconstruct their navies according to the light which the action of the Virginia and the Monitor afforded them.
The efforts of the North to crush the Confederate forces in Virginia had signally failed. But military operations were not confined to Virginia. In this war the battle-field was the continent. Many hundreds of miles from the scene of McClellan's feeble efforts, the banner of the Union, held in manlier hands, was advancing into the revolted territory. The North sought to occupy the border States, and to repossess the line of the Mississippi, thus severing Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas from the other members of the secession enterprise, and perfecting the blockade which was now effectively maintained on the Atlantic coast.
There were troops enough for these vast operations. By the ist of December, 1861, six hundred and forty thousand men had enrolled themselves for the war. The North, thoroughly aroused now, had armed and drilled these enormous hosts. Her foundries worked night and day, moulding cannon and mortars. Her own resources could not produce with sufficient rapidity the gunboats which she needed to assert her supremacy on the western waters, but she obtained help from the building yards of Europe. All that wealth and energy could do was done. While the Confederates were supinely trusting to the difficulties of the country and the personal prowess of their soldiers, the North massed forces which nothing on the continent could long resist. In the South and West results were achieved not unworthy of these vast preparations.
During the autumn a strong fleet was sent southward to the Carolina coast. Overcoming with ease the slight resistance which the rebel forts were able to offer, the expedition possessed itself of Port Royal, and thus commanded a large tract of Confederate territory. It was a cotton-growing district, worked wholly by slaves. The owners fled, but the slaves remained. The first experiment was made here to prove whether the negro would labor when the lash did not compel. The results were most encouraging. The negroes worked cheerfully and patiently, and many of
Victories South and West.
them became rich from the easy gains of labor on that rich soil. In the West the war was pushed vigorously and with suc
To General Grant, a strong, tenacious, silent man, destined ere long to be commander-in-chief and President, was assigned the work of driving the rebels out of Kentucky and Tennessee. His gunboats ran up the great rivers of these States and took effective part in the battles which were fought. The rebels were forced southward, till in the spring of 1862 the frontier line of rebel territory no longer enclosed Kentucky. Even Tennessee was held with a loosened and uncertain grasp.
In Arkansas, beyond the Mississippi, was fought the battle of Pea Ridge, which stretched over three days, and in which the Confederates received a sharp defeat. Henceforth the rebels had no footing in Missouri or Arkansas.
New Orleans fell in April. Admiral Farragut with a powerful fleet forced his way past the forts and gunboats, which composed the insufficient defence of the city. There was no army to resist them. He landed a small party of marines, who pulled down the secession flag and restored that of the Union. The people looked on silently, while the city passed thus easily away for ever from Confederate rule.
There was gloom in the Confederate capital as the tidings of these disasters came in. But the spirit of the people was unbroken, and the government was encouraged to adopt measures equal to the emergency. A law was enacted which placed at the disposal of the government every man between eighteen and thirty-five years of age. . Enlistment for short terms was discontinued. Henceforth the business of Southern men inust be war. Every man must hold himself at his country's call. This law yielded for a time an adequate supply of soldiers, and ushered in those splendid successes which cherished the delusive hope that the slave-power was to establish itself as one of the great powers of the world.
LIBERTY TO THE SLAVE.
THE slave question, out of which the Rebellion sprang, presented for some time grave difficulties to the Northern government.
As the Northern armies forced their way southward, escaped slaves flocked to them. These slaves were loyal subjects. Their owners were disloyal. Could the government recognize the right of its enemies to own loyal men? Again, the labor of the slaves contributed to the support of the Rebellion. Was it not a clear necessity of war that government should deprive the Rebellion of this support by freeing all the slaves whom its authority could reach? But, on the other hand, some of the slave States remained loyal. Over their slaves government had no power, and much care was needed that no measure should be adopted of which they could justly complain.
The President had been all his life a steady foe to slavery. But he never forgot that, whatever his own feeling might be, he was strictly bound by law. His duty as President was not to destroy slavery, but to save the Union. When the time came to overthrow this system, he would do it with gladdened heart. Meanwhile he said, "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would do it."
From the very beginning of the war, escaped slaves crowded within the Federal lines. They were willing to perform any labor, or to fight in a cause which they all knew to be their