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Chapter II, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 3


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The benevolent act of a philanthropic American merchant, Mr. George Peabody, who, in March, 1862, made a free gift of £150,000 to the London poor, must not be passed over in silence.

The admirers of Garibaldi in this country witnessed with sorrow the failure of a rash enterprise made by him in August, the object of which was the conquest of Rome. M. Thouvenel, writing to the French ambassador at Rome, in this very year, in the name of the Emperor, had again declared in positive terms that " the capital of Catholicism could never at the same time become, with the consent of France, the capital of Italy;" and Rattazzi, who had succeeded Ricasoli as Italian premier in February, had declared that his Ministry, while remaining faithful to the vote of the Chambers asserting Rome to be the capital of the Italian kingdom, " would go to Rome by moral and diplomatic means, always hand in hand with France." In spite of these public and official declarations, Garibaldi resolved to try whether the Rome-ward progress of the revolution could not be accelerated. Having raised a band of volunteers, he landed in Sicily, and at Palermo, on the 26th July, issued one of those turgid manifestoes for which he is notorious, calling upon the Hungarians to rise in arms, and, having disposed of the " ferocious despotism " of the Hapsburgs, join the Italian revolutionists in effecting the complete liberation of Italy. But the Hungarians, led by the wise Deak, were at that time engaged in those struggles, within the pale of the laws and the constitution, which have since resulted for them in such a splendid recognition of their national integrity and dignity. In a calmly reasoned letter, General Klapka replied to the revolutionary rhetoric of Garibaldi, pointing out the folly of his enterprise, and the want of true patriotism which he was exhibiting.

Crossing to Melito, Garibaldi made a fruitless attempt on Reggio, and then commenced his march northwards. But the Italian Government was on the alert, and had given orders to Cialdini to put the thing down. That general detached Colonel Pallavicino, who, having come on Garibaldi's track, pursued and overtook him, on the 29th August, at Aspromonte. His followers were dispersed with little difficulty, and Garibaldi himself was wounded in the foot and taken prisoner. The Italian Government behaved with great leniency; Garibaldi himself was released, and a decree of amnesty issued to all his followers, except those who belonged to the Italian army or navy.

A revolution, more akin to the ridiculous than to the sublime, took place this year in Greece. In October, while King Otho and his queen were absent from Athens, the people rose, the troops mutinied, the Bavarian dynasty was declared to have ceased to reign, and a provisional Government installed itself in office, with Demetri Bulgari at its head. 'Prom the vaguely grandiloquent phrases of the manifesto published by the provisional Government, it would not be easy to discover what was the misconduct alleged against Otho, or whether there was any misconduct at all. It seems that he was not considered faithful to the " grande idée," on which the imagination and ambitious hopes of every true Greek are fed - the idea of the extension of the frontiers of the Hellenic state, and the deliverance of the millions of their countrymen who still groan under Turkish misrule. In a word, the crime of Otho was that he was unpatriotic. A plebiscite was decreed, in humble imitation of the Napoleonic prototype, for the election of a king of Greece; every Greek above twenty years of age was to have a vote. The result of the voting was, that Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria, was chosen king by an overwhelming majority. But it had been previously agreed between the plenipotentiaries of the protecting Powers, England, France, and Russia, that all members of the reigning families of those nations should be excluded from the Greek succession. The election of Prince Alfred was thus nullified. The further progress of the Greek revolution belongs to a later year; nevertheless, it will be convenient to give at this place a connected view of the whole series of transactions, so that it will be unnecessary hereafter to return to the subject. At the end of December, 1862, Mr. H. Elliot was commissioned by our Government to make it known to the provisional Government at Athens, that England was disposed to cede the Ionian Islands (over which she had exercised a protectorate since the Congress of Vienna) to Greece, provided that the form of government remained monarchical; that Greece abstained from aggression against neighbouring ' states; that the king selected were a prince "against whom no well-founded objection could be raised;" lastly, that the cession were shown to be in accordance with the unanimous, or nearly unanimous, wish of the Ionian population. The Greeks and Ionians accepted the proffered terms with enthusiasm. After long consideration and discussion, a suitable occupant for the throne was found in Prince George, son of the King of Denmark, and brother to the Princess of Wales. A Greek deputation, proceeding to Copenhagen in June, 1863, tendered the crown to Prince George, who graciously accepted it, and soon afterwards proceeded to Greece, where he was received with general enthusiasm. England, thoroughly satisfied with this selection, proceeded to carry out her promise. Sir Henry Storks, the Lord High Commissioner, dissolved the Ionian Parliament in August, and summoned a new one, on which the express mandate should devolve of taking into consideration the contemplated re-union of the islands to Greece. The new Parliament met, and unanimously ratified the cession. One difficulty, however, still remained. Greece was a weak state; Corfu possessed a capacious and important harbour, and, by the care of the protecting state, had been converted into a formidable fortress; were the fortifications handed over intact, it might be apprehended that, in some future European war, a great Power allying itself to Greece would employ the fortifications of Corfu for the purpose of strengthening its own position in the Mediterranean. The British Government therefore, in concert with the four other great Powers, decided that the Ionian Islands (Corfu, Cephalonia, Zante, Santa Maura, Ithaca, Cerigo, and Paxo) should, from the time of their cession to Greece, " enjoy the advantages of a perpetual neutrality," and that the fortifications which had been constructed in Corfu, as no longer required after the concession of such neutrality, should be demolished previously to the evacuation of the island by the British garrison. This was in November, 1863; the demolition was at once proceeded with; but it was not till far on in 1864 that the troops finally quitted the island, and the annexation to Greece was consummated.

A fierce struggle raged during the whole of this year between the Federals and Confederates in America. Into the details of this struggle the historian of England is not called upon to enter, but he may justly be expected to make his readers acquainted with its general features, since it was a strife which, in determining for a long period the destinies of the most important portion of the northern continent, affected powerfully the position of England in the world, no less than the interests of millions of British and Irish emigrants, in this and future generations. If the Confederates had broken up the Union, it is hard to believe that an English Ministry, however unwarlike, would have courted humiliation, as in the Treaty of Washington and its preliminaries; or knowingly so framed an arbitration as to lose an island belonging to us by +,he clearest right, as in the case of San Juan.

The operations to be described fall under the head of military and naval - the first embracing the minor contests in Tennessee and Arkansas, together with the great struggle in Virginia; the second comprising the operations of the Federal fleets on different points of the Confederate coast, the battle of the Merrimac and the Monitor, and Farragut's gallant capture of New Orleans.

1. The state of Tennessee, which had been one of the last to secede, was not left long in the hands of the Confederates. Lying along the southern border of Kentucky, open to the Mississippi, and watered by navigable rivers which run into the Ohio, it was peculiarly open to attack from those who held the upper course of the former, and the whole basin of the latter river. Its capital, Nashville, on the river Cumberland, was secured, the Confederates hoped, by the erection of two forts, Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, the one on the Tennessee river, the other on the Cumberland, at a point in Kentucky where the streams approach within twenty miles. But, in February, a strong force, under the command of General Ulysses Grant, moving up from the Ohio, captured both forts with little difficulty. Nashville, being thus left defenceless, fell into the hands of the Federals soon after, and the major part of the state was recovered. A desperate attempt to reverse the course of fortune was made by the Confederates in April, when, under their ablest general, Albert Sidney Johnston, they attacked in force the scattered divisions of Grant around Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee. On the first day of the conflict, the Confederates were successful along the whole line; Grant's army was driven so close to the bluff overhanging the river, that one resolute charge seemed all that was wanted to push them in headlong rout into and across the river. On the next day, news arrived that General Buell was hurrying up to the aid of Grant with reinforcements; Johnston, however, still pressed on, and was making preparation for the final charge, when the bursting of a single shell changed the fate of the battle, and decided the destiny of the West. Johnston fell mortally wounded: the command devolved upon Beauregard; there was an interval of fatal indecision; the " native hue of resolution was sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought; " the Confederate general began to concentrate his guns, instead of advancing his masses; and the Federals, feeling themselves no longer pressed, recovered courage. Buell's troops presently came into line, and the exhausted Confederates, disappointed of a victory that was just within their grasp, retired towards the frontier of Mississippi. The loss of the Federals in this bloody and critical engagement was 14,000 men, in killed, wounded, and prisoners; that of the Confederates 11,000.

In the state of Arkansas, west of the Mississippi, a battle was fought at Pea Ridge, in March, between the Federal general Curtis and the Confederate Van Dorn; and another at Prairie Grove, in December, between the forces under the command of Blunt and Hindman. Neither action was decisive, but the general course of the year's campaign in this state was unfavourable to the Confederates.

But the great blow was struck - the gigantic failure sustained - in Virginia. Since the resignation of Scott, the new general, M'Lellan, had been labouring incessantly to augment the number and perfect the discipline of the army. When a force had been collected of nearly 200,000 men, the most efficacious mode of employing it had to be considered. The attempt to march to Richmond the year before had been baffled within a few miles of Washington by the catastrophe of Bull Run; and although M'Lellan knew by his scouts that the Confederates were no longer in force on that line, the thought of crossing so many rivers, and transporting his stores along so many forest roads, in the face of a determined and infuriated enemy, deterred M'Lellan from attempting to penetrate to Richmond overland. But there was a Federal stronghold considerably nearer to Richmond, Fortress Monroe, acting from which as his base, M'Lellan thought that he might, without great risk, extend his army along the peninsula lying between the York and James rivers, and so reach Richmond. Acting on this idea, of the soundness of which he had convinced President Lincoln, he caused a great quantity of transports to be provided, and embarking his troops in the Chesapeake, landed at Fortress Monroe on the 2nd April. Gradually concentrating his forces, he advanced along the peninsula above mentioned, and while encamped before Yorktown, on the 30th April, found that he had 130,000 men at his standards. From Yorktown he advanced towards Richmond; but now the difficulties of the enterprise began to appear. A small sluggish river, the Chickahominy, running much through marshes and scattered woods, divides the peninsula nearly in two equal halves, or long narrow strips, for forty miles and more to the east of Richmond, bending round suddenly at last, and flowing into the James. General J. E. Johnston, who was in command of the main army of the Confederates, allowed his enemy to march on unchecked, until a considerable part of his troops was well entangled in the swamps of this treacherous valley, and then commenced a series of vigorous and well-planned attacks. The first collision took place at New Bridge, on the Chickahominy, on the 24th May. On the 27th, General Porter, sent to clear the Federal right in the direction of Hanover Court House, dispersed with some loss the Confederate division which opposed his march. But the first serious action was the battle of Fair Oaks, or the Seven Pines, on the 31st May. The divisions of Generals Casey and Couch having been thrown forward by M'Lellan to the point, or points, indicated by those names, without, it would seem, adequate provision for their support in case of need, the Confederate army, marching out of Richmond simultaneously along several roads which led towards the scene of action, fell upon the Federals while the breastworks with which they were preparing to secure their position were still incomplete. Couch's division was the first attacked; it was enveloped, broken, and forced back on the division of Casey; which, also, was unable to stand its ground. The camps of these two divisions, with many guns and stores, fell into the hands of the conquerors. Heintzelman was promptly summoned to the aid of the beaten generals, but we are told that 44 some of his regiments did not rush to the front quite so impetuously as a good portion of Couch's made tracks for the rear." The task of relief now passed into the able hands of General Sedgwick, who, coming up with fresh troops, and handling them well, checked the further advance of the Confederates, and even recovered a portion of the lost ground. The total loss of the Federals in this battle was about 5,700 men; that of the Confederates 4,200.

M'Lellan seems to have been, as it were, stunned by this battle of Fair Oaks, for he kept his army, still vastly superior to that of the Confederates, for more than three weeks in camp, without attempting any movement of importance. The Confederate generals had thus full leisure to mature a great combined movement, the object of which was to turn the Federal right and force the whole army down on the shore of the James river. Johnston having received a severe wound in the battle of Fair Oaks, the command had devolved on General Robert Lee, a gallant gentleman of the old Virginian stock, aided by that thunderbolt of war, "Stonewall" Jackson, by Stuart, the " beau sabreur," by Ewell, Long- street, and other brave and able officers. Jackson had just returned from the Shenandoah valley, where, with skill and daring seldom equalled, he had defeated or foiled all the Federal corps that he had come across, driving most of them right out of the valley. On the 26th June, General Porter, commanding the right wing of the Federal army, was attacked at Mechanicsville, on the north side of the Chickahominy, by the divisions of Longstreet and Hill. On that day Porter appears to have stood his ground; but on the 27th Jackson came up and mingled in the fight; and the Federal general, after having fallen back from Mechanicsville to Gaines' Mill, was dislodged from that position also, and completely defeated. M'Lellan, with a force immensely outnumbering anything that was in his own front, was within three or four miles of his defeated subaltern; but, being a man of no truo military insight, he was deceived by the feigned attacks which the Confederate troops in his front had been instructed to keep up during the day, and sent across the Chickahominy, in compliance with Porter's urgent messages, reinforcements too weak to turn the tide of battle, but large enough to give additional magnitude to the catastrophe. The right wing of the Federal army being thus turned, its communications with its base at West Point on the York river were cut, and immense quantities of stores were captured by Stuart and his cavalry, while as much more was destroyed by the Federal officers in charge. M'Lellan, in pursuance of the decision of a council of war, ordered a retreat. He wrote to Secretary Staunton, and was doubtless sincerely convinced, that the enemy with whom he had to contend numbered from 150,000 to 200,000 men, the fact being that the entire force under Lee's command, even after Jackson's army had joined him, never exceeded 70,000 men. Pursued and harassed by the victorious Confederates, yet turning to bay readily and often, and fighting stubbornly, the Federal army marched by Malvern Hill upon the James river. There fevers broke out among them, exposed as they were to the fierce summer sun of Virginia and to the malarious exhalations of a marshy region; and as soon as sufficient transport could be provided, the remains of that imposing array which had gone forth three months before with such proud hopes, were transferred by sea to Acquia Creek, on the Potomac. This took place in the first half of July.

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Pictures for Chapter II, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 3

George Peabody
George Peabody >>>>
Battle of Pittsburgh
Battle of Pittsburgh >>>>
Fight between the Monitor and the Merrimac
Fight between the Monitor and the Merrimac >>>>
Earl Granville
Earl Granville >>>>

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