The Richmond Daily Dispatch reprints selected items from the northern press all the time. Usually the intent is fairly obvious; this one puzzles me a little. According to the New York World, Grant’s screwing up the Vicksburg campaign, and McClellan should take over (in unintentional irony, because of Grant’s “inaction”?). Let’s see. The article says that McClellan’s being sidelined because he’s a Democrat; maybe the Dispatch is trying to foment more dissension between the Northern parties. Or does the editor know how incapable McClellan is, and is hoping they’ll send him to Vicksburg? Or does he think McClellan is genuinely capable, and he’s using reverse psychology, figuring if the Northern leadership sees this reprinted in the dispatch, they won’t send McClellan to Vicksburg? Or is it just reveling in reports of Northern screwups?
The Ominous Inaction at Vicksburg
From a late number of the New York World we copy the following:
The capture of Vicksburg transcends in importance, as it doubtless exceeds in difficulty, every other military enterprise in the contemplation of the Government. The taking of Richmond, without the simultaneous destruction of the Confederate army in Virginia, would not fatally weaken the rebels; the capture of Charleston would give us another New Orleans to govern and defend. The possession of the exporting cities of the South amounts to little. so long as the country behind them allows nothing to be exported. But the capture of Vicksburg would cut the rebel Confederacy in twain. The countless droves of cattle from the Illimitable plains of Texas which are their main resource for feeding both the rebel armies and their home population, would be shut back, as well as the other supplies, and the military recruits they derive from that State and from Arkansas. It would sunder their connection with their Indian allies, extinguish their hopes of expansion in the West, and by reducing the area of the rebellion render its subjugation a more manageable problem.
The military wisdom at Washington resembles the Divine wisdom in this — that it is “past finding out.” Success at Vicksburg is, and has been all through this winter’s operations, a problem of engineering. And yet the Government keeps the best engineer in the army all winter in this city unemployed. This accomplished engineer, who is also the ablest of our Generals, could give unity to the dissentient Southwestern commands, and renew the decaying confidence of the soldiers. No officer in America has so fine a talent for organization or so rare a faculty or winning the regard and attachment of the men he leads. The proper place for General McClellan is, of course, at the head of the whole army; but as the Government has a right to command his services in any sphere it thinks fit, it would have shown more wisdom in sending him to the Valley of the Mississippi than it has in compelling him to stand idle awaiting orders in New York. Party malignity should not thus jeopard the success of a great military enterprise.