Admiral Farragut Masses Troops for Attack on New Orleans

April 17, 1861

In Mississippi, Union Admiral David Farragut prepares to mount an army-navy assault up the Mississippi River on New Orleans.  Back east, criticism of General George B. McClellan continues.  The New York Tribune reports: “Why George B. McClellan was called to the onerous and responsible position he has held for the past seven months, will never be fully explained. When appointed Major-General of Volunteers by Governor Dennison, of Ohio, he was Superintendent of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, a dilapidated concern, which had long been on its last legs:–It is putting it in very soft language to say that his standing among railroad managers was not high. In used, the truth would bear me out in asserting that it was rather middling, if not decidedly low. He had put his name to a large volume five years before, as one of the American Military Commission to the Crimes. Of this respectable, though somewhat jejune work the public supported him to be the author. It was known only to a few that it was merely a compilation and translation from European publications — that an enterprising bookseller (unaware of this fact) had seat a good many copies across the Atlantic for sale which ware returned upon his hands because foreign traders dare not sell them, lest they be sued for infringing copyrights — and that in reality he was no more the author of the substantial parts of this book than he was of the Even in pretty wall informed circles, it is still asserted that Captain McClellan was selected by the other two members of the mean Commission (Majors Mordecai and Belafied) to draw up the report to the Secretary of War. This is an error. Each member published a book, and that of McClellan is the smallest and most inconsiderable of the three.
The country was appalled at the disaster of Bull Run. it could not be denied that Gen. McDowell had failed. War is inexorable.–It sacrifices lives and reputations with remorseless hand. Public opinion demanded that McDowell be instantly displaced from the command of the army of the Potomac.–Neither the President nor Gen. Scott dared to resist the execution of the decree. It is now felt that great injustice was done to McDowell. But a victim was demanded to appease popular clamor, and he was offered up in looking around for his successor, it was found that the selection was confined to a very narrow range. The oldest and most experienced Generals in the army, excepting Gen. Wool, who was then under some mysterious ban, had joined the rebels. The campaign in Western Virginia where McClellan, by virtue of his Major-Generalship, was senior officer, had been successful. He had sent shrilling telegrams, and written imposing dispatches to Washington, describing the successes in his Department.: The writer continued:

Having set up an idol, all patriotic men, of high and low degree, instantly commenced offering incense at its shrine — though nobody could tell exactly why, nor has anybody yet found out. Everybody reposed implicit confidence in him; all waited for his nod with reverential aspect; his slightest word was treasured up and repeated in whispers; his most casual look was scanned as if big with meaning; and then be was so silent, so reticent, so uncommunicative! There was a mystery about him. He did not confer with his subordinate Generals, and they recollected that the great Napoleon did just so by his Marshals. The newspapers abounded with sketches of his personal appearance, and the show-windows ran over with photographs of ‘”the Major-General Commanding”’ in all conceivable and inconceivable attitudes, the most frequent and popular of which in that therein he is mounted on a furious charger, at the head of his serried columns, leading his impetuous men, amid a tempest of fire, straight up to the enemy’s entrenchments….
As the new year approached, ‘”Why don’t be moved”’ said some impatient observer, infatuated with the delusion that war means fighting. ‘”He is waiting for something to turn up!”’ responded grave believers in strategy. Well, it did turn up at Hill Spring. –Why don’t be move now ? He is waiting for Burnside. His plan contemplates a general once upon the foe all along the lines from Hatteras to Kansas. When they are ready at the extremities, the centre will fall with crushing weight upon Manassas, and the rebellion will be ended. Be patient. By and-by the gallant Burnside, after encountering and mangling obstacles immeasurably worse than all the mud that can be piled between the Potomac and the Rappahannock, opens fire at Roanoke in the East, while Fort Henry, on the Tennessee, and Donelson, on the Cumberland, their brave assailants wallowing to their armpits in the mire, send the echo back to Albemarle….
But, at last, the army is going to move.–Why? When the people began to learn that this gorgeous pageant on the Potomac had already cost them about $300,000,00, and was involving them in an annual tax of $20,000,000, and was running up a debt that their great-grandchildren would not see the end of, they commenced to inquire whether this attempt to make a colossal military chieftain out of a second-rate railroad superintendent was not too costly an experiment; and they began to hint at a change. Acting upon this hint, a robust official opened his mouth and spoke. He presented to ‘”the Major General Commanding”’ the alternative, either to move his army or move himself; either to take his columns away from the Potomac, or to yield up their lead to other hands. Will he move? I think he will, and at an early day. Where? If I know, I would not tell. Will he find the foe? I am not sure that he will soon find him in large numbers.

Published in: on April 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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