Article originally published in Harper’s Weekly, 26 November 1864 (courtesy of sonofthesouth.net)
FREDERICK THE GREAT’S Silesian campaigns were not more remarkable than General SHERMAN’S. A more skillful and accomplished soldier has not been known in our history; and, compared with him and his operations, how poor sounds the old talk about the “Great Captain” LEE!
SHERMAN forced his way straight through the enemy’s territory, over mountains and rivers, baffling all attacks, outwitting all hostile designs, driving the whole mass of the rebel army backward until he planted his flag where he set out to plant it, and sat down in Atlanta. The victory extorted a wail of anguish and rage from the rebel chief, for he felt the mortal wound. In utter desperation he ordered HOOD to throw his army upon SHERMAN’S rear and to threaten Tennessee. SHERMAN turned upon him, drove him from his intended line, detached General Thomas with his army to hold him in the corner of Alabama or to coax him across the Tennessee ; while now, with all his banners flying and bugles blowing, his futile enemy confounded, SHERMAN shakes out his glittering columns and advances to the sea.
There is no considerable force to oppose him. The ample breadth of Georgia lies open to him. The finest and richest tract of the rebel region is his parade ground, and ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS’S own State is about to learn the truth of his prophecy that, if it drew the sword, it would miserably perish by it.
Whether SHERMAN is moving upon Mobile, or Savannah, or Charleston, or whether he is moving at all, is not known. But whatever be his destination, he will reach it and occupy it. There Is no force and no generalship in the rebel lines which can compare with his. And the coming of his army, although it necessarily leave a path of desolation, will be the shining of a bright light in the darkness of the South. It will show rebels that the Government of the United States has irresistible power, and that it is useless to contend with the inflexible resolution of the American people that their Government shall be maintained.
The people of the rebel section have seen the progress of our arms in the last three years. They have not forgotten that they were themselves apparently successful until the Government could create and collect its forces and bring them to bear. They have seen the loyal part of the country submitting to taxes, to drafts, and to the necessary conditions of war. They have seen an angry and malignant faction arise and threaten to paralyze and divide the loyal nation. They have seen the slow and painful process by which we have ascertained who are our real military chiefs, and they see them now in command. They have seen the opening of the Mississippi, the occupation of the Southwest, the baffling at every point of their attempted invasions, their constant shrinking before the national hand, as JOHNSON shrank from SHERMAN. They have seen the hope of foreign interference expire, cotton dethroned, and their finances ruined. They have seen the defection of their army, and have heard it confirmed by DAVIS himself. And now at last they have seen the attitude of their loyal fellow citizens perfectly unchanged, and hear them in the fourth year of the war, by a unanimity which is marvelous, declare that whatever may be the further cost of the struggle it shall go on until the authority of the mildest, fairest, and best government in the world is every where and entirely restored.
The coming of SHERMAN’S army will be the visible proof of all the things they have seen. Desperate they may be, brave and furious, but they are men still, and there is a point at which all men yield. If that point is not nearly reached, very well. We can wait, They know now that SHERMAN is the personification of the loyal country, and that the war will continue until that point is reached.