Why a Prolonged War

When the electric wires conveyed with lightning speed the startling intelligence of the surrender of Fort Sumter, and therefore the actual commencement of deadly war upon the government by the confederate traitors of the South, all party distinctions at the North seemed to be merged, for the time being, in a common determination to uphold the national flag, and suppress the rebellion, at whatever cost of blood or treasure. Nor was the task considered a difficult one. At the worst, if a sharp, certainly a short conflict would settle the whole matter—summarily send to the gallows the leading conspirators—enforced the loyal recognition of the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution in every disaffected section—and bring back the old state of things, leaving scarcely a scar upon the face of the country. Nearly two years have passed away, and during that time colossal armies have been raised, a formidable navy created, desperate and bloody battles fought, fabulous sums of money expended, to ensure the triumph of the Federal government; yet the Union still remains divided, the piratical Confederate States still maintain their independence, the war still goes on with varying fortune, and what is to be the end of those things even the most sagacious and far-sighted hesitate to conjecture. It is undeniable that at no period since the outbreak have there been such anxiety of mind and heaviness of heart as to the final issue, as are now felt throughout the North. (¶ 1)

It may be profitable to inquire into some of the causes of these sanguine expectations on the one hand, and these severe disappointments on the other. (¶ 2)

  1. None but those who had thoroughly mastered the spirit, tendency and necessities of chattel slavery saw that from it proceeded the flames of this rebellious war as naturally as volcanic eruptions burst forth from Vesuvius or Etna. In vain they pointed to the line of division between the loyal and the disaffected, running precisely where the free institutions of the North found their geographical boundary, and the slave institutions of the South began—at least, so far as the dominating sentiment was concerned on either side. In vain they arrayed impregnable evidence, demonstrating that just where the slave oligarchy were the most powerful, and slaves the most numerous, there the treasonable spirit was the most rampant—culminating as well as originating in thrice accursed South Carolina,—a large majority of whose entire population was owned as property, subjected to stripes and tortures, and herded with the beasts of the field. In vain they warned the government that no effective blow could be struck at the rebellion, which did not directly strike at the existence of slavery; that, whether it prosecuted the war expressly to free the fettered negro or not, the war was commenced and carried on for no other purpose, by the traitors, than to prevent the negro from getting his freedom. Month after month was allowed to pass away in abortive strategy or sanguinary conflict, under the delusion that the rebellion could be quelled not only without shaking the slave system to its foundation, but all the more quickly by letting slavery entirely alone. Never was delusion more complete or more disastrous! Every where prevailing, how was success possible under such circumstances? Therefore the war dragged its slow length along. If the advice of the abolitionists had been followed, long ere this both slavery and the rebellion had been effectually suppressed, and peace restored from sea to sea. There is no such uncompromising loyalty to freedom and free institutions as theirs. They will be found true, inflexible, unconquerable, when all others, disclaiming the appellation, are found ready for compromise or capitulation. (¶ 3)

  2. Another reason why the war has lingered has been the unwillingness to employ the free colored and slave population in the military service of the government. The proposition to do this has stirred up an incredible amount of democratic (!) bile, and elicited from the lips of a hollow, tumid patriotism the indignant exclamation—What! shall it be said that twenty millions of Northern freeman cannot overcome eight millions of Southern rebels, without the aid of the niggers! Shame on him who says to the contrary! This was cowardly swaggering and not true bravery, and it has since received merited retribution. Moreover, if it proved any thing, it proved too much; for if it would be cowardly for twenty millions to call in negro help to subjugate eight millions, is it not also cowardly for twenty millions to bring all their forces to bear against eight millions? and should they not, to place their courage beyond suspicion, tie one hand behind them, and fight only with the other, disdaining to meet the enemy beyond man for man? Yet, with all the advantage of numbers, resources, intelligence, and bravery on the part of the North, the South,—whatever her sufferings and sacrifices,—continues unsubdued, defiant, confident of ultimate triumph and permanent independence. Remember that, for more than eighteen months after the humbling of the stars and stripes at Sumter, the policy adopted by President Lincoln, in conducting the war, gave such satisfaction to the democratic press, as to elicit from it the strongest laudations; nor did it cease to extol his honesty, independence and patriotic purpose until, in September last, he announced to the rebellious States that their slaves should be declared free, in case they did not return to their allegiance by the first of January, 1863. During all that time, why were not the rebels conquered—eight millions against twenty millions—if the aid of the negroes was not needed? Remember, moreover, that from first to last, the army of the Potomac and the army of the West have been led and controlled by democratic officers, who have managed every thing in their own way, caring little or nothing for the wishes, requests, or commands of the President,—as signally illustrated in the case of Gen. McClellan, around whom are gathering, by an unerring instinct, all the elements of sedition and ruffianism at the North for the most desperate purposes. Why, with the lion’s share of office, emolument and power magnaminously conceded to them, did not these democratic leaders long since carry their armies through victoriously to the Gulf? Will the democratic press answer? (¶ 4)

Of course—other things being equal—eight millions of people cannot successfully cope with twenty millions, of the same blood and nation as themselves. The disparity is so overwhelming that, in the sequel, they must be either subdued or exterminated. Other things being equal, we said—and here lies the rub; for in this struggle things are not equal, and so the comparison is as illogical as it is vain-glorious. In the first place, it is cool deception to talk of eight millions as constituting the sum total of the Confederate strength; whereas, to this number must be added four millions of slaves, who, under the iron dominion of their rebel masters, are as clay in the hands of the potter, and who, used in every conceivable way to carry on the rebellion, constitute a most formidable power to be hurled like a thunderbolt against an invading force. The southern aggregate, then, is twelve millions. (¶ 5)

There are other considerations, explanatory of the lingering nature of the war, which we must defer till another week. (¶ 6)