Friday, September 10, 2010

The Constricting of the Anaconda

The Richmond, Va. Papers are becoming excessively frightened in view of the constricting of the coils of the great anaconda which has encircled them within its folds. The only consolation that the Enquirer can find is, that if you pen up even a coward he will fight; that the very means taken by the Government to suppress the rebels will cause them to fight more desperately. True, but very many of them have no faith in their cause and would avail themselves of the earliest opportunity presented – as we have a notable case in Kentucky – and lay down their arms. The Enquirer gives in detail examples of men thus penned up and fighting their way through in Scott’s army in Mexico, which with all its communications cut off, with the enemy behind and before and on each had, yet triumphed. The Enquirer must remember that it has no pusillanimous Mexican soldiers to fight now, but men, armed with the right, men who will fight as desperately as the foe against whom they contend. Scott with ten thousand men fought Santa Anna with thirty five thousand soldiers and a hundred pieces of heavy ordnance and took a city of one hundred and eighty thousand men, hence the Enquirer argues, that the South can successfully contend against the avalanche of soldiers that will come upon it from the north. The comparison is an extreme one and the reasoning absurd. The northern soldiers will find no Churubuscos, or Chapultepecs in Virginia; no Thermopylaes among its mountain vastnesses where a hundred men can put ten thousand to flight. Its Richmond may rather prove a city of Mexico and the rebel forces that environ it, be made to strike the treasonable rag they have so long flaunted in the eyes of freedom, to numerically inferior force.

The Enquirer may have “learned to despise its enemy,” as it asserts, but the men of the South are not all cast in the same mould. Gladly would many of them, aye the great mass of them, return to allegiance if they felt sure of being guaranteed in the possession of the rights they enjoyed before the demagogues of the South entailed upon their fair country this miserable rebellion – an instance of this has been given within a few days by the loyalty and manifestations of joy exhibited by the Southerners, as the Federal gunboats passed up the Tennessee river even into the State of Alabama. Willingly would they ground their arms and beat the sword into the pruning hook, if not urged on by the specious traitors who feel that for themselves there is not alternative but victory or the gallows. Men fight desperately, most true, when their lives, their houses, all their hearts hold most dear are at stake; but when contending against a Government whose protection they have so long enjoyed and which has guaranteed them the social and political privileges that no other people on the face of the globe have possessed, and when assured that by laying down their arms they shall still be fully protected in their rights, they have not the heart to fight with enthusiasm. The Enquirer may appeal to the people of the south by all the force of rhetoric that a bad cause can command, but it will not avail; the spirit of its soldiers is broken by delay and an inglorious and fruitless war, and all the oratory of its rebel statesmen and Generals cannot again rouse up the war feeling in their breasts. The doom of treason is sealed and the pour, misled soldiers of the South feel that they have been deceived.

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Friday Morning, February 14, 1862, p. 2

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