Sunday, July 7, 2013

July 7, 1863: Wishful thinking in Richmond, Virginia

While Richmond waited for authentic news of what had occurred at Gettysburg, Richmond's Daily Dispatch continued its unrelenting stream of wishful thinking. It is a window into the Southern mindset at the precise moment when news of the fall of Vicksburg and the loss at Gettysburg had yet to reach the Confederate capital.
The position of the two armies.

It appears evident to us from Meade's dispatch of Friday that Gen. Lee has at last attained the object of his long and anxious labors, and that he has brought the remnant of the Army of the Potomac into a position in which he may destroy it at a single blow. His plan begins to develop itself more fully, and in proportion as it does so we are more and more struck with its wisdom and with the long forecast of the mind which conceived it. Knowing full well that the battle of Chancellorsville had so crippled the army of Hooker that he could not interfere with his designs, he determined to carry the war into the enemy's own country, to make them feel what the horrors of war actually were, and to support his army upon their abundance. His movements compelled Hooker to follow him, released Richmond from all actual danger, and at the same time were so admirably masked that the Yankee Bobadil could form no conception of his intentions. The capture of Winchester opened the way into the heart of Pennsylvania, and into it Lee poured his whole army. The rapid progress of his advanced corps soon compelled the Yankee army to leave their position around Washington and come in pursuit of him, and this, beyond all doubt, Lee foresaw. Longstreet had advanced as far as Gettysburg, when last Wednesday he came in contact with the whole Yankee army. For two days he fought it, evidently, from their own showing, gaining greatly the advantage. In the meantime Lee has been concentrating his whole force upon that point, apparently with the intention of fighting a great and decisive battle — a battle which shall not only decide the fate of the present campaign, but have a most important bearing upon the issue of the whole contest. What the result will be, or has been, past events do not permit us to doubt. Whenever we have met the Yankees we have beaten them, and they have rarely been less than three to one. Here their forces will have been not greatly superior to ours. If Longstreet was able not only to check, but actually to defeat their whole army with his single corps, what may we, not expect from the whole army of Lee?

If the decisive battle has yet been fought, it must have been on the 4th, 5th, or 6th of July. These three days are all memorable in the history of mankind. Everybody knows what the 4th of July was famous for. On the 5th, in 1814, was fought the battle of Chippewa, in Canada, where old Scott distinguished himself. On the 6th July, 1809, occurred the great battle of Wagram, between the French under the Emperor Napoleon, and the Austrians under the Archduke Charles. It was one of the most tremendous conflicts of which there is any account in the history of the world. It was fought by 300,000 warriors, in sight of as many eye-witnesses; for the battle field lay in full view of Vienna, and every steeple, roof, and window, that commanded a sight of it, was crowded with spectators. From an early hour in the morning until late in the evening the earth trembled beneath the incessant roar of 1200 pieces of artillery. The Austrians were defeated with the loss of 60,000 men, but they sold their blood dearly. History, apparently, has her favorite days; that is, there are certain days into which she is fond of crowding great events. If the expected battle has occurred, it but makes more noted a day already immortal in the annals of mankind.

What will the Yankees do next if this army shall have been annihilated? That is a question which it behooves Mr. Lincoln to think of very seriously, and no doubt he is giving it all the attention in his power. They cannot send any more veteran troops to replace it, and the probability is that they may lose both Washington and Baltimore. At any rate they will lose all of Pennsylvania this side of the Susquehanna, and our troops will have it for the support of the war. If Lincoln depend upon raw levies, they will be slaughtered like sheep. If he bring on Rosecrans, Bragg will recover the whole of Tennessee. If he call up Grant, he must abandon all his designs against Vicksburg. Whichever way he turns, an insoluble difficulty presents itself, nor is at all improbable that he may have to leave Washington as he entered it. We are surprised indeed that he has remained so long.

P. S.--The intelligence communicated from Martinsburg is glorious, if true It does not come in such a shape, however, that we can place implicit reliance on it. We therefore publish it for what it is worth. Nevertheless, we doubt not that General Lee has defeated Meade. Although this intelligence may not be reliable.

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