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Military Reorganization.—Resume of Events to the December Session of Congress.-Action in Regard to “Contrabands” and Slavery.
THE first depression which followed the disaster at Manassas, speedily gave place to an uprising of the loyal sentiment of the nation, surpassing in earnestness and grandeur even that which immediately succeeded the fall of Fort Sumter. For this effect in deepening and strengthening the popular determination, the Rebel cause had received no substantial compensation through its barren victory. The losses were too nearly equal, the ground won was too insignificant, and the fruits which might have been gathered by a Napoleonic general had too completely eluded the grasp of Beauregard and his superior, Davis, (who had come up from Richmond just in time to witness the closing spectacle), to afford real occasion for the exultation universally manifested throughout the territory occupied by the insurgents. Yet, at home and abroad, the immediate effect was auspicious in appearance for the now very sanguine leaders of secession. They looked forward to nothing less than early occupation of Washington, with the subjection of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri, under an armed invasion, and a recognition, throughout the world, of the Rebel Empire.
A prompt reorganization of our armies in front of Washington and in the Shenandoah was ordered by the President. Whatever the merits of McDowell, it was necessary to call another to his place who could better command the public confidence. The ardent dispatches of the young commander in West Virginia were yet fresh in all minds. He had the favoring support of Gen. Scott, and on every side there was a predisposition to hope the most and the best from his assignment to a larger command. If the President erred, it was only in common with the people whose will he had undertaken to execute, and not from favoritism or partiality, political or personal, toward an officer whom he had never seen. The 25th of July, 1861, is memorable as the day on which Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont arrived in St. Louis, and entered on his command of the Department of the West; as the day on which Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks (previously in command at Baltimore) reached Harper's Ferry, superseding Gen. Patterson; and as that on which Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan arrived in Washington to take command of the Army of the Potomac. His former place, as commander of the Army in West Virginia, was, by an order issued on the same day, given to the hero of Rich Mountain, Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans. At Baltimore, Maj. Gen. John A. Dix assumed command in place of Banks. For the three months succeeding the battle of Bull Run, the Army of the Potomac, from which the people impatiently awaited worthy deeds to redeem and avenge the former failure, has only the history of rapidly increasing numbers, of improving organization and discipline, and of the needed preparation, in respect to arms, equipments, supplies and experience of camp life. During this period, the number of men under McClellan's command had come to be estimated at about 200,000. It is believed that the effective force, on the 21st of October, when the first movement commenced, fell but little, if any, short of that number. Meanwhile the Potomac had become substantially closed by a Rebel blockade, injurious to many interests, and hazardous in a military point of view. But the prudent General, guarding himself against premature movements, in accordance with the monition which he saw in the result of McDowell's advance, deemed it unwise to risk a general action by coöperating with a naval force, as was desired, to reopen navigation on the river. On the 18th of August, the command at Fortress Monroe was surrendered to Gen. John E. Wool, by Gen. Butler, who proceeded northward to organize a separate expedition, the destination of which was not disclosed.
In the West stirring events had transpired prior to the arrival of Gen. Fremont at the headquarters of his Department. In Missouri, the Rebel forces had been gradually driven toward the Southwest by the small army under Gens. Lyon and Sigel, with occasional engagements, until finally the insurgents, with greatly increased numbers, had made a stand at a place nine miles beyond Springfield, on Wilson's Creek. Here, on the 10th of August, was fought a memorable battle, which may be termed the second considerable engagement of the war. Gen Lyon, whose entire force appears to have been less than 6,000, attacked the enemy in camp, reported to be 22,000 strong, now under command of Ben. McCulloch. The advance was made in two columns: one under Lyon himself, moving directly on the enemy; the other, making a circuit of fifteen miles toward the left, was to turn the enemy's right. This well-planned movement was commenced on the night of the 9th. Gen. Lyon's column, after resting two hours, following the night's march, resumed its course at four o'clock in the morning, and his advance drove in the enemy's pickets an hour later. The camp was soon in full view, extending for three miles along the valley, and the attack was commenced by Blair's Missouri regiment, while Totten's battery began to shell the tents more distant. The Iowa First and two Kansas regiments were also brought up. A cavalry charge of the enemy was met and repulsed. Another attack, about nine o'clock, somewhat staggered our forces, and in placing himself at the head of the Iowa regiment, to lead a bayonet charge, Gen. Lyon, who had already received three wounds that morning, was shot through the breast by a rifle ball and fell dead on the field. The last Rebel advance, made about one o'clock in the afternoon, was repulsed.
The movement under Gen. Sigel was successful at first, and resulted in the destruction of the enemy's tents and entire baggage train, about noon. Sigel's column, however, was obliged at length to give way. Both columns now retired toward Springfield, the entire loss being reported as eight hundred in killed and wounded. The enemy is believed to have suffered heavily, especially from the well-directed fire of our artillery.
He did not pursue our forces, which were led away by Gen. Sigel without confusion or disorder. Although not successful in occupying the enemy's position, yet the partial advantages gained, with so great a disparity of numbers, left a very different moral impression from that of the defeat at Manassas, on the 21st of July.
The loss of Nathaniel Lyon would have been a dear price for the most decided victory. As a General, as a patriot, as a man, his name will remain one of the brightest among those of the memorable heroes of his time. *
Gen. Fremont, on his arrival at St. Louis, had set about organizing his forces for an energetic campaign, not only to restore order in Missouri, but also to gain control of the Mississippi river. Volunteers in great numbers sought service under him, his name awakening an enthusiasm, particularly among citizens of German origin, beyond that of any other commander. The operations began under Lyon and Sigel were allowed to continue, substantially following out the plans already formed, while he was carefully fortifying the city of St. Louis, and organizing a gunboat service, afterward to become so important an auxiliary on the Western waters. But a brief time had elapsed, after Fremont's arrival at St. Louis, before the engagement at Wilson's Creek—fought at greatly unequal odds, for which his personal opponents vehemently censured him— and the subsequent retreat, together with the constantly occurring disturbances in various parts of the State, satisfied the commanding General that he had no light task in reëstablishing peace and order in Missouri alone. Before he assumed command, Gen. Pope had already been obliged to resort to energetic measures in the northern part of the State, to suppress the irregular warfare there prevalent, and to quiet the deadly feuds existing between the two parties into which the communities were divided. The necessity of more stringent proceedings throughout the State was daily becoming manifest."
It was under these circumstances that, at length, Gen. Fremont issued his famous order proclaiming martial law, in the following terms:
HEADQUARTERs WESTERN DEPARTMENT,
Circumstances in my judgment are of sufficient urgency to render it necessary that the commanding General of this department should assume the administrative powers of the State. Its disorganized condition, helplessness of civil authority, and the total insecurity of life, and devastation of property by bands of murderers and marauders, who infest nearly every county in the State, and avail themselves of public misfortunes, in the vicinity of a hostile force, to gratify private and neighborhood vengeance, and who find an enemy wherever they find plunder, finally demand the severest measures to repress the daily increasing crimes and outrages which are driving off the inhabitants and ruining the State.
In this condition the public safety and success of our arms require unity of purpose, without let or hindrance to the prompt administration of affairs. In order, therefore, to suppress disorders, maintain the public peace, and give security to the persons and property of loyal citizens, I do hereby extend and declare established martial law throughout the State of Missouri. The lines of the army occupation in this State are for the present declared to extend from Leavenworth, by way of posts of Jefferson City, Rolla and Ironton, to Cape Girar. deau on the Mississippi river. All persons who shall be taken with arms in their hands within these lines shall be tried by court-martial, and if found guilty will be shot. Real and personal property of those who shall take up arms against the United States, or who shall be directly proven to have taken an active part with their enemies in the field, is declared confiscated to public use, and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free men.
All persons who shall be proven to have destroyed, after the publication of this order, railroad tracks, bridges, or telegraph lines, shall suffer the extreme penalty of the law. All persons engaged in treasonable correspondence, in giving or procuring aid to the enemy, in fermenting turmoil, and disturbing public tranquillity, by creating or circulating false reports, or incendiary documents, are warned that they are exposing themselves.
All persons who have been led away from allegiance,
are required to return to their homes forthwith. Any such absence, without sufficient cause, will be held to be presumptive evidence against them. The object of this declaration is to place in the hands of military authorities power to give instantaneous effect to the existing laws, and supply such deficiencies as the conditions of the war demand; but it is not in