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בס"ד

Lincoln and McClellan

SKETCHES FROM THE SEAT OF WAR.
By A Jewish Soldier.
III.

The American Revolution, which heretofore constituted the Alpha and Omega of our national reminiscences, will, in the future, occupy a secondary position in our annals, and either lose its original historic significance, through the fatal issue of the present crisis, or, what we indeed hope may be the case, its glories will be dimmed by the still more glorious records of patriotism, heroism, and success in the suppression of this Rebellion. The Revolution accomplished little more than the overthrow of European influence and dominion over these states, and although the patriots who took the lead in that gigantic struggle, were anxious to consolidate the independent colonies into one powerful nation, an object which they attempted to accomplish by our Union and Constitution, yet the people in general, and especially the Barons of the South, have never divested themselves of the impression that their political connection could be broken off at pleasure, and that a mere vote of the State Legislature would suffice to convert their countrymen into foreigners, and their government into a rival. Arguments having failed to convince them of the wickedness and folly of carrying these theories into effect, we have, at last, been compelled to appeal to our arms, and on our success in the field, now depends the life, the perpetuity, the independence of the American nation.

The great issues dependent of this conflict, will give a prominent place in History to all those who are now directing the affairs of the nation, and either cover them with glory, or disgrace them in the eyes of posterity, in the same proportion as success or failure will result from their plans and efforts. Foremost among these, is of course, the President, Abraham Lincoln, held forth on the one side as the cause of the Rebellion, and on the other as the champion of constitutional government, but in reality representing before his election, nothing more than the principles of a majority in the free states on the subject of slavery, though, after having been constitutionally elected, all loyal citizens of other parties, as well as of his own, look upon him as the chief magistrate of the Republic, whose authority could not be questioned without giving a deathblow to the Union and Constitution. Having been raised by the whims of fortune from the humble position of a country lawyer, to the most exalted office it is in the power of the American nation to confer, he no sooner hears the gladdening news of his election, than the diabolical spirit of discord and disunion, overshadowing the land, dispels from his mind the pleasing anticipations of a peaceful and harmonious administration. Before he is enabled to wield the power of the government, he sees the national difficulties encouraged and aggravated by a traitorous administration, a rebel government, obeyed by seven states, and enlisting the sympathies of five others,-- forts and national vessels freely given up, mints and other public property appropriated by lawless politicians; and when at last, he sets out to assume the reins of government, the assassin's knife is whetted to slay him, whilst a rebel force are lurking in Virginia to seize the capital. Under all these trying circumstances, which a coward would have met with humiliating concessions, and a villain with duplicity or treachery, Mr. Lincoln's conduct, as well as professions, has been uniformly, and invariably straightforward, exhibiting on all occasions, an unwavering honesty of purpose, an integrity, earnestness and patriotic devotion, as well as moral courage and firmness, which no failure can ever tarnish nor reverses obliterate from the records of History. His political opponents admit this, and his friends claim nothing more for him. Like King Saul of old, he is head and shoulders taller than his brethren, so that he has actually to stoop when he enters into conversation with ordinary mortals, and it is this, more than his figure, that gives him such an awkward appearance. He is by no means a bad-looking man, nor is his hair uncombed, nor his dress disorderly, as most people seem to infer from the wretched pictures exhibited in the stories. Whether you meet him taking his morning walk, or at a levee, you will always find him neat, civil, and, --if common report be true-- always ready for a joke. Those that have known him in his social relations, speak of him as a kind father, a too indulgent husband, and a sincere friend.

Although in the eye of the law, the President is the chief of the nation, yet virtually at the present moment the real power of the commonwealth rests with the son of a Philadelphia surgeon, George B. McClellan, on whose sword, more than on the wisdom of Congress, depends the triumph of our government, and in whom the hopes of this nation are concentrated, with the confident expectation, that they will not be disappointed.

Brady's photograph of the general, with which every one is familiar, so little represents his figure and features, that some people feel inclined to believe that the artist must have got his sketches mixed, and put his name on the wrong picture. The common prints giving an outline of his head and shoulders, afford a more correct idea of his general appearance. He is a very short, a very broad, and a very round young man, about 35 years of age, with brown hair, sandy moustache, sharp features, a prominent nose and blue eyes. His countenance and forehead clearly indicate a man of great energy, great perseverance, great firmness and great courage, but there is nothing of that poetic fire in his eye that characterizes the man of genius. His perceptive and analytical faculties, are, according to phrenologists, strongly developed, and any ordinary observer could easily discover that he has a good head for mathematics. As a general, he will never manifest that genius which inspires a heroic confidence into an undisciplined army, or, by bold and dashing movements, overruns the enemy, and renders his troops a terror to the foe, but his success will consist in ingenious combinations, and in the wise application of well tested rules. He may prove himself a Wellington, he will never be a Napoleon, and if the final triumph is to stand in the same relation as his talents, we have no reason to regret his appointment to the command of our forces. There was a time, when the now hostile generals were intimate friends, and McClellan had conceived such a high opinion of the genius of the rebel general, Gustavus Smith, that he paid the greatest deference to his views; but military men were always of a different opinion, for they all agreed then, as they do now, that there was no man in this country, with a sounder military head, nor one who, in the present emergency, could be so safely entrusted with the conduct of this war. That his experience in Mexico, and in the Crimea has not been lost on him, his short but brilliant campaign in Western Virginia abundantly proves, nor will his command of the Army of the Potomac appear less satisfactory to those who know in what terrible condition he found it. Few people are aware that some nights after the disastrous battle of Manassas, three hundred rebel soldiers came within pistol shot of Washington, and could have captured Fort Runyon without opposition, as our forces had to guard other important posts, nor would it have been difficult for an army of ten thousand men to capture the capital. Now, thanks to his efforts, we have a large and well disciplined force, not only sufficient for the defence of this city, but eager for forward movements. The time for such an advance has not yet arrives, it being a general's plan to cut off the enemy's supplies from his rear, and then to make a bold attack in front. One fine morning we shall get up, and hear that the enemy, in anticipation of such a movement, has fallen back from Manassas, and perhaps removed their capital from Richmond to some other nest.

Next to McClellan, no one has of late been such an object of curiosity in this city as Senator, now General Lane, of Kansas. He is a wiry gentleman, about 50 years of age, with rigid features, slight moustache and fiery eyes. He professed to know very little of military science, but he does profess to understand how this war is to be carried on, and has accordingly applied and received permission from the government to raise a few thousand troops to act independently of the other generals. Without troubling himself about his military technicalities as "base of operations," "protecting the rear" etc., he will go straight into the heart of the enemy's country, and in a few months we will undertake to take Charleston, New Orleans, or any other place that may be most acceptable to the public. He makes no promises, nor does he say how he is going to do his work; but he makes no secret of the fact that he is going to work on a different system from that pursued hitherto by our military men. "His movements will not be retarded by the delay of an express wagon laden with quinine, we will not employ more than a week in court martialing a man for using one ounce more cotton than wool in the manufacture of a hundred shirts for the army, he will not check ten thousand Federal troops in their march, for the purpose of praying over a dead rebel; he will not order his men to select a particular spot on each rebel soldier's body, that they may kill him without hurting him; he will not allow a soldier to desert more than seventeen times before beginning to suspect his loyalty, we will not enter into any metaphysical disquisition to find a reason why all property in the South as is directly employed in aid of the rebellion should be confiscated." This is Jim Lane's programme, and depend upon it, he will prove himself the Garibaldi of the war.
 

Sketches from the Seat of War