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the old veteran at his mansion in Washington, and presented to him, in person, a most affectionate and generous farewell address. Subsequently, in a message to Congress, Lincoln dwelt with warm praise on the services that General Scott had rendered to the country, expressing his belief that, whatever could be done to reward him, the nation would still be in debt to General Scott. McClellan was now in supreme command.
Naturally, Lincoln, being a Western man, felt the supreme necessity for the speedy opening of the Mississippi River. The strongest and most numerous opponents of the war were in the West, and their complaints of the hardships entailed on the people, in consequence of the prolonged hostilities, seemed to have more influence than in the Eastern States, where those hardships were less perceptible-perhaps less real. Lincoln's anxiety was not very well appreciated by the Eastern people, or by the generals and politicians that thronged in Washington. When, in course of time, the river was opened, the elation of the President showed itself in many odd expressions. He gloried in the fact that “the Father of Waters went unvexed to the sea." And, in a message to Congress, greatly to the scandal of some of the more fastidious of his friends, he referred to the gunboats on the Mississippi as “Uncle Sam's webfeet,” that went whither they chose. But, as yet, all this was unaccomplished.
In pursuance of his programme, General U. S. Grant, then rising somewhat in the popular esteem, attacked and destroyed Belmont, a military depot of
the Rebels, in Missouri; General Garfield defeated Humphrey Marshall at Middle Creek, Kentucky, and General George H. Thomas defeated Generals Zollikoffer and Crittenden at Mill Spring, in the same State. These victories did much to hem the Rebels within the lines of the so-called seceded States, and also crippled them much. This was followed up by the capture of Fort Henry, on the Tennessee, and Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River. These streams, emptying into the Ohio River, were very necessary to help in military operations against the southwestern Rebel States. The forts were taken and the rivers cleared by General Grant, commanding the land forces, and Admiral Foote, in command of a fleet of “Uncle Sam's web-feet.” Fort Donelson was commanded by the Rebel Generals Buckner and Floyd, the latter being the same traitor who, as Secretary of War, had done his best to hamper the Government while he yet held office under President Buchanan. The Rebel generals asked Grant for a parley to settle terms of surrender. To this Grant replied: "No terms except unconditional surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately on your works.” This gave Grant his popular title of “Unconditional Surrender Grant." The Rebels did not wait. Floyd, conscious of the darkness of his guilt, fled in the night with a small force. Buckner surrendered twelve thousand prisoners of war and much material for fighting.
This was in February, 1862. Kentucky was now cleared of Rebels, and Tennessee was opened to the occupation of the Federal forces. Early in March,
Gen. S. R. Curtis fought the battle of Pea Ridge, and the Union flag was once more floating in the State of Arkansas. A few days later, General John Pope moved down the valley of the Mississippi, and, by a series of successes, yet further broke the armed opposition to the progress of the Federal army and the gunboats. On the 6th of April, 1862, was fought the great and terrible battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburgh Landing, in which the carnage on both sides was awful, and many brave and distinguished officers, including General Albert Sidney Johnston, the Rebel commander, were killed. The defeated Rebels were sent flying to their fortified line at Corinth, Miss., where they were attacked by General Halleck, driven out, and compelled to retreat, leaving behind them, in their precipitate flight, a vast accumulation of military stores. Thus, by the end of May, 1862, the Rebels saw Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee torn from their grasp, and the United States flag floating once more over these recovered States.
That part of the programme which required the blockade and occupation of the Atlantic ports of the Rebel States was not overlooked meanwhile. During the months of March and April, 1862, Roanoke Island, N. C., was captured with great stores of arms and ammunition and many prisoners by Admiral Goldsborough and General Burnside. Newbern, N. C., fell next, and Fort Pulaski and Fort Macon, on the same coast-line, soon followed in surrender. In the autumn of 1861, an expedition under General B. F. Butler landed at Ship Island, in the Gulf of
Mexico, about midway between New Orleans and Mobile. A fleet of armed vessels under Admiral Farragut soon after arrived, and on the 17th of April Farragut appeared below the forts that guarded the approaches to the city of New Orleans. After bombarding these impregnable fortifications for several days, the gallant Admiral resolved to run past them. Making due and skilful preparations for the desperate undertaking, amid a storm of bombs and solid shot Farragut passed the forts, and, destroying the Rebel fleet above them, ascended the Mississippi, and appeared before New Orleans, to the amazement and consternation of its people. Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, next fell, and the surrender of Natchez, May 12th, opened the Mississippi as far north as Vicksburg, a city which, with its fortifications, now remained almost the sole impediment to the free navigation of the Father of Waters.
These events, here noted in the order of their happening, were scattered over several months in their occurrence. Grant fought the battle of Belmont in November, 1861. The Mississippi was open as far as Natchez about the middle of May, 1862. Many of the decisive important military and naval operations, therefore, were undertaken in the winter. But May, 1862, found McClellan still inactive before Washington. Is it any wonder that Lincoln, besieged as he was by importunities for aggressive movement by the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General McClellan, was greatly troubled by the sluggishness of that large and costly force? The General's headquarters were in the city of Washing
ton, where he maintained great state, surrounded by a large and brilliant staff, many of whom were gentlemen of distinction, American and foreign. Here was all the show and parade of war, but no fighting. In Washington, too, were the politicians in great numbers. The former successes of General McClellan had suggested to the minds of many that he would be available as a Presidential candidate, and it was not long before that idea was uppermost in the mind of the General himself. As he was conservative, and opposed to the policy of emancipation, then actively discussed everywhere, and was disposed to regard the institution of slavery as something too sacred to be interfered with or disregarded in the military operations then on foot, he was naturally the choice of the Democratic politicians.
It was a long time before the mass of the people lost their faith in McClellan. He was to them still the “Young Napoleon” who had done so much in his earlier campaigns in western Virginia, and who, it was fondly believed, would march directly upon Richmond, when he should once determine to move. Meantime, he wanted many things to perfect his army. When these were furnished, he found that other imperfections were to be removed. People seemed to think that McClellan's inaction was due to the tardiness with which the Government supplied his necessary wants. Great was the popular discontent. It would appear that even the brilliant and highly important successes elsewhere availed nothing as long as no portentous movement was made upon Richmond. “On to Richmond!” was