The New York Times predicts victory in the southwest, and enumerates the North’s advantage.
The Onward Movement in the Southwest.
Published: October 12, 1862
The Southwestern States have fairly begun work, after the long rest they have had during the Summer. The gallant and successful operations of Gen. ROSECRANS in Northern Mississippi, the march of Gen. BUELL northward to Louisville, and from thence southward in chase of the rebels, and his victory over them, — the advance of Gen. SCHOFIELD into Southwestern Missouri, and his scattering of the rebels who had penetrated that State, — these things show that the main columns of our army in the Southwest have all entered upon their work for the cool and cold weather. It is a very powerful army that we have in that section of the Republic.
The forces under the commanders we have named — those of BUELL, GRANT (including ROSECRANS), and SCHOFIELD — actively engaged in service, number about a hundred and fifty thousand men; while, if we add the troops doing garrison and other duties at various points in the same great field of operations, we shall find that the Western army, with the new recruits it has lately received, will sum up its numbers to near two hundred thousand effectives.
It is quite impossible to believe that the rebels have anything near one-half this vast number of men opposed to us. Their Western armies have never been very large. At the greatest battle that has taken place there, the battle of Shiloh, where all their troops were massed together, they brought into the field less than forty thousand men; and, though the conscription has been in active operation since then in some sections of the Confederacy, it has not been enforced in the thinly-populated States of the Southwest. The army of PRICE and VAN DORN, to which was assigned the execution of one of the most important parts of the rebel programme in the Southwest, was defeated and routed lost week by a Union force of less than 20,000. The army of BRAGG in Kentucky is represented from the most authentic sources to be only between thirty and forty thousand strong. And the army which entered Missouri from Arkansas, added to the troops located in the latter State, are most certainly, all told, not more than ten or twelve thousand strong.
There are but few scattering bodies of rebel troops anywhere in the West. The Confederate Government does not think it necessary to guard with regiments of soldiers every possible point that we may attack. They rather throw into respectable columns what men they have, and keep them actively operating, either within our lines, or upon our outposts, or against the larger bodies of our troops. Taken all in all, we do not believe that the Southwestern rebels have near one-half the number of soldiers in the field that we have.
We think, therefore, that our army of the Southwest is ample for the work before it. That work, as we delighted to dwell upon it in the Spring when it was begun, and seemed for a time in fair way of completion, is to drive the rebels from Kentucky down to the Gulf of Mexico, to open the Mississippi River, and to take and hold the vast rebel territory west of the Father of Waters. The rebels of BRAGG are certainly, if official and unofficial accounts may be credited, moving southward, out of Kentucky; and if BUELL, with his army — which is more than twice as strong numerically as BRAGG’s — follows up with any sort of vigor the work which he has begun, they will not be permitted to pause either in Kentucky, or in the mountains of East Tennessee.
The only other Western rebel force of importance this side of the Mississippi — that of BRAGG and VAN DORN — is, we suppose, pretty effectually disposed of already. So that there does not appear any valid reason why, say by the close of the year, there should be anything but small and detached bodies of rebels left to infest the glorious Western and Southwestern lands which have been so long cursed by the presence of hostile armies.
In regard to the opening of the Mississippi River, the country has been grievously disappointed. When New-Orleans was captured and Memphis fell, we were all jubilant over the fact that the grand stream which the rebels had kept closed for a year was about to be opened up to free navigation. But we were balked at Vicksburgh, and discouraged by the discovery that there were many points on the river at which the rebels could plant artillery that would rake and destroy our wooden steamboats. Very soon, now, however, an iron gunboat fleet will be ready for operations on the river — not such partly-clad scows as we have already used there, but real invulnerable river iron-clads. These will patrol the Mississippi, make short work with any rebel batteries on its shores, and keep it clear for the peaceful uses of commerce and traffic. We hope that this work will be pushed as rapidly as is comportable; and that we will, as quickly as possible, be relieved from the disgrace the rebels now heap upon us by partially controling the greatest of American rivers.
When this work is effected, it will be an easy matter to deal with the rebel territory west of the Mississippi. Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, when once the regions to their eastward are ours, would be utterly powerless; and it would only require that their capitals and a few strategic points be held by our troops. Then we should have but the rebel army in the East to deal with, if that, too, be not, by the end of the year, destroyed.
The onward movement has been begun in the West. Let it not pause till it is pushed to completion.