Part II

Comparison Between The Two Governments.

       Before further relating the military events of the Confederate war, a view should be taken of the relative situations of the two great contestants. The expectation of the Confederates was to extend their government over nearly or quite all of the area commonly called the South. The north boundary line of the magnificent country which they designed to cover with the Confederate constitutional government ran westward north of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and the Indian Territory. South of that long line spread many large States and territories, reaching from the Ohio river to the shores of the Atlantic ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Fourteen great States and two or three territories lay within these boundaries, occupying a region of great fertility and beauty, with all accessories of climate and water, and all natural facilities for commerce, manufacturing, mining and agriculture. The total area was more than a million square miles; the population intelligent, brave, thrifty and increasing in wealth. Of this population, between five and a half and six millions were of the white race, almost wholly natives; the remainder, four and a half to five millions, were negroes, nearly all slaves.
       The people of this fine region were not prepared for war and certainly did not desire it. When the seven States instituted the Confederacy there was no army or navy, except such as each seceded State had hastily gathered. They did not have enough guns and ammunition to fight one battle of respectable proportions, and until other States joined them they had no foundries, no powder mills, nor other manufactories of the munitions of war. They were a peaceable, agricultural and commercial people, who were ready enough to fight on provocation or for their convictions, but they had not expected a war with the Northern States and had made no preparation for that calamity. Under an act of the United States Congress there had been sent to the arsenals of the South in May, 1860, a large number of muskets and rifles, which it has been said armed the Confederacy; but on investigation these were found to be of such little service that the Southern armies were glad to throw them down at Bull run and elsewhere in order to pick up the better guns which their enemies left on the battlefields. The arms referred to were old percussion muskets, percussion rifles and altered muskets--all old patterns--which Congress gave willingly to any State that would take them. They had been deposited in the Charleston, North Carolina, Augusta, Mount Vernon and Baton Rouge arsenals, and after secession went into possession of the various States. Such of them as could be used were placed temporarily in the hands of troops.
       As rapidly as possible the Confederate government made military preparations to meet the invasion of its territory that would probably take place. The seceded States turned over the forts and arsenals within their boundaries to the Confederate government, and each State began with considerable vigor to organize and equip a military force. The Confederate government attempted in the beginning to organize a small army of about 11,000 regulars, infantry, artillery, cavalry, and an engineer corps. Congress authorized the President to call for a volunteer force of 100,000 men, and appropriated the money for its support. But the insignificant numbers put into the field before the first of May showed not only the difficulty of rapidly organizing and equipping a great military force, but also the effect of the uncertainty prevailing at the South as to the purpose of the Federal government. In illustration of the character of the military preparations of these first days of the Confederacy, it may be noted that General Bragg reported his force at Pensacola in March at 1,116, and accompanied his report with an appeal which elicited a promise of 5,000 more. Beauregard was then in command of 2,000 at Charleston, and other important stations were manned in the same proportion. These, however, do not comprise the entire military organized in the South, for each State had already called and accepted many companies which were held in readiness to be equipped for the field of battle.
       The lack of a navy was not only very apparent, but the difficulty of creating this important means of defense was nearly appalling. Many of the best officers of the United States navy had resigned and reported at Richmond for active service in the Confederacy. Tattnall, Buchanan, Semmes, Hartstene, Hollins, Rousseau, Ingraham, Randolph and others, who did great service and acquired great fame, were among the accomplished naval officers first assigned to duty by the navy department at Montgomery. About 200 officers of the United States navy, of all grades, resigned their commissions early in 1861, and with a nice sense of honor, not one of them who had charge of a ship brought it into the possession of the Confederacy. What is called the nucleus of the Confederate navy consisted of the few vessels which were seized by the seven States soon after each had seceded, in the aggregate about ten, the most powerful carrying only ten guns. Congress authorized the increase of this little navy by the purchase of ten gunboats, and distributed the gallant officers who had offered their services among various naval posts. Yet, notwithstanding the lack of essentials for creating a navy, the skillful officers above named, with those of like character who subsequently joined them, gave a wonderful fame to this arm of Confederate defense.
       The Southern movement was also sustained at its outset by military leaders recognized as the choice spirits of the United States army, who gave up their commissions in obedience to the action of their States. Among them were Albert Sidney Johnston, Braxton Bragg, P. T. Beauregard and the venerable David E. Twiggs, who were soon joined by Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee, and others whose names will appear hereafter. Military leaders such as these were placed from year to year in command of "the incomparable Southern armies," winning from Mr. Horace Greeley the tribute: "The rebels were seldom beaten through pusillanimity, never through the treachery of their leaders."
       Such was the general situation of the Southern Confederacy preceding the forcible attempt to reinforce Fort Sumter. The government was fully organized, the dis. position was peaceful, the military and naval forces inadequate, the leadership superb, and the people ardently devoted to the cause of separate independence; but the new government was to be forced to stand by its ability to maintain itself against military power, or fall by the insufficiency of its own military support.
       The preparedness of the United States for the war which they were about to make was materially greater than that of the Confederacy. The population of the United States in 1861, exclusive of the seceded States, was over twenty millions, nearly all white, almost four times the white population of the South. The States comprising the Union at that time were situated north of the Ohio and extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. The Southern line of this vast territory lay along the northern and western borders of the Confederacy, giving advantages for invasion at many points. The States east of the Mississippi river were populous, thrifty and aggressive. In general resources for making successful war, the States of the northern section of the Union exceeded the South in a proportion much greater than their fourfold excess of population.
       The general trade, domestic and foreign, of the entire United States, including the South, had steadily increased during the preceding decade, until twenty-five foreign countries were seeking business here with over 11,000 vessels, while the Southern trade alone amounted to an estimated sum of $400,000,000 annually in product of the soil exchanged for Northern manufactured goods. The imports of 1860-61 were $335,000,000 and the exports, $248,000,000. The total debt of the government was but $69,000,000.
       For war purposes the regular army contained 16,000 men, chiefly stationed on the western frontiers, while the volunteer militia system of the States permitted of a rapid increase of this force through requisitions upon the governors. The whole naval force in commission, as reported by a congressional committee in January, 1861, consisted of five squadrons of twenty-five ships in various foreign waters, the home squadron of eleven ships stationed in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast, and twenty-eight other ships in various United States ports to be refitted for service, making a total of sixty-four vessels belonging to the navy. To these should be added six store-ships and seven receiving ships, also serving in the navy. The report of the secretary of the navy shows that in March, 1861, the total number of vessels belonging to the navy was ninety, carrying 2,415 guns and a complement of 7,600 men, of which sixty-nine ships were available, and this valuable navy was rapidly increased by construction and purchase. The whole of it remained in the possession of the United States. For construction and preservation of all ordnance there were at least four large foundries, fifteen armories and arsenals, besides a large number of gunpowder mills and manufactories of general army equipments located in the Northern section. Notwithstanding the secession of seven large States, the government still held Fortress Monroe, Harper's Ferry, Gosport navy yard at Norfolk, Forts Sumter, Pickens and many minor strongholds on the Southern coast during the first months of 1861. The oceans were open to its commerce as well as to its war fleets; its resources were magnificent as well as rapidly available, and nothing seemed to obstruct the quick subjugation of the Southern States except the obligations of a sacred instrument--the Constitution of the United States.

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