Friday, April 19, 2013

Signs of Despair among the Rebels

The tone of the Southern press grown more and more desponding.  We observe several recent articles from Southern newspapers which show that hope and confidence are wavering in view of the situation.  It is quite evident that there is a foreboding of the end now apparently near and inevitable.

The Richmond Examiner of the 16th of instance “sees but one chance of success from the net that has been coolly drawn around us, it is to concentrate our energy on one point and cut it through to convert our defensive into an offensive war and transfer the scenes of at least a part of these hostilities to the enemy’s own country.  Situated as we are, it is only possible at one point, and that is Kentucky.”

But since the time when the Examiner discovered one possible point in Kentucky the army of Zollicoffer, which held the key to Tennessee has been utterly routed and dispersed.  The examiner anticipated the movement and declared that if the plan of Buell – that is of flanking Bowling Green on either side – was successful, it must result in a great disaster.  “Its only hope then was in an offensive campaign across the Ohio from the point that Gen. Johnston now defends.”

But when the intelligence which had not then reached Richmond, of the utter rout of Humphrey Marshall’s forces at Prestonburg and of Zollicoffer’s defeat at Somerset, which took place three days afterwards, became fully know that “only hope” must have perished.

The Richmond Whig of the 17th apparently to counteract the discouraging effect of the Examiner of the day previous, said, “Let us turn for a moment to the West, Price, Polk, Marshall and Zollicoffer having whipped the cowardly mercenaries at every point.”  Of course this was intended to cheer up the despondent Southern ear, but how much more disheartening must be the reaction when the truth was known.

The Richmond Dispatch discovers that even in Richmond there are men who are loyal to the Union and the fervor of its denunciation of such indicate clearly the fear that Union sentiments may become contagious as the fortunes of the Confederacy from day to day become more gloomy.

The Trenton (Tennessee) Standard “regrets to say considerable evidence of disloyalty to the Confederate Government has been manifested in West Tennessee,” designating the counties of Carroll, Weakly and McNairy as the localities of formidable Unionism and resistance.  In that part of the State, too, where secession in the start, had unresisted and absolute sway.

The articles we recently published from the Memphis Argus, where filled with the most bitter hostility to Jeff. Davis and his conduct of the war.  There would be no utterances of that sort – no recrimination so intensely wrathful except in the abandonment of all hope of present success under his auspices.

All these things clearly denote the growing suspicion, at least in the minds of sharp intelligent observers of events, that the catastrophe is not very far off.  They perceive how completely they are beleaguered by hostile forces on every hand – that the Port Royal expedition is still in potential activity in the heart of South Carolina, that Burnside’s expedition, whatever the point to which it is directed, will meet no adequate opposing force; that Butler has a position on the Gulf coast where he can assail either Mobile or New Orleans at pleasure; that Lane’s expedition will soon move down through Arkansas and Louisiana irresistible.  In short, turn which way they will, now that the hope of our instant war with England, on which they counted, is dissipated, there is nothing but black, rayless despair. – {St. Louis Democrat.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, February 1, 1862, p. 3

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