“Evacuation of Atlanta – Our Great Dangers”

new york herald

July 23, 1864

Collection: The Civil War
Publication: The New York Herald
Date: July 23, 1864
Title: Evacuation of Atlanta – Our Great Dangers Another Descent upon

Evacuation of Atlanta – Our Great Dangers Another Descent upon
Washington and a Northern Insurrection.

Our despatches from Nashville announce the evacuation of
Atlanta, and its occupation by General Sherman irresistible
army. The government, however, it must be said, had received
no official information of the fact up to a late hour last
night, and the news may possibly have come a little ahead of
time. But we regard the fall of the city as certain, an event
which a flash along the wires may proclaim now at any moment.
Having already explained to our readers the comprehensive
military advantages of this position as a new base of
operations, it will suffice for the present to say that the
demolition of the oft defeated, badly crippled and now
seriously exposed army of Johnston, and the complete isolation
of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi from Richmond, are now
fairly within the power of Gen. Sherman. When these objects
shall have been achieved, if General Grantimmediate aim be
not meantime accomplished, the vital forces of the rebellion
will be reduced to South Carolina and Richmond.
The overthrow of Leearmy, however, under the present
condition of things, must itself inevitably precipitate the
collapse of the so called “Confederate States,”from Virginia
to Texas. We are satisfied, too, if Lee army can only be
held to the defence of Petersburg and Richmond, that the
tightening lines of General Grant will, before long, reduce
General Lee to the alternative of a sortie, in which he will be
defeated; an evacuation, which will cast him hopelessly adrift,
or a close siege, from which he will not be able to escape.
But, in the probability of another movement, and this time by
the bulk of Lee army, upon Washington, there is great danger
that all the labors and sacrifices and all the victories of
Grant and Sherman and their brave and devoted soldiers may be
blasted in a single overwhelming disaster.
From the late dashing rebel raid into Maryland Washington
has had a very narrow escape. The loss of that invaluable day
entailed upon the enemy by General Wallace, on the Monocacy
river, was the saving of the national capital. But, even with
the necessary time gained and warning thus given to the
administration for a proper reception of Early and
Breckinridge, they succeeded in a reconnoissance of the
northern defences of Washington which has doubtless satisfied
them that the veteran army of Lee, unless confronted by the
army of Grant could without much difficulty force its passage
to the White House at the point of the bayonet.
Why, then, should not General Lee attempt this promising
enterprise? While engaged in it the strong defences of
Petersburg and Richmond may be held by the army of Beauregard,
and the difficulty of feeding the eighty thousand men of Lee
army proper will be overcome by moving them to the fresh
supplies furnished by the late fruitful harvest of the
Shenandoah valley, and the still teeming northern counties of
Maryland. Supposing, then, that some fine morning, as on
several occasions in 1862 and in 1863, and once already in
1864, the people of the Maryland border, during the present
summer, should be startled again with the spectacle of the
advancing legions of a rebel army, what assurance could be
given of the safety of Washington? None, from present
appearances, but the vigilance of General Grant; but even he,
on the south side of Petersburg, twenty miles below Richmond,
may be deceived, upon another trial, by the precautions of his
wily adversary.
Supposing, then, that Washington is surprised, captured and
sacked by the enemy, including the capture or disposition of
the President and his Cabinet, the destruction of the public
buildings and archives, arsenal, navy yard, commissary
buildings, &c., and all their vast materials of war and
military stores, what would be the consequences in the North?
The blow would fall with crushing effect upon the generous war
sustaining classes of the loyal States; but the restless and
mischief scheming copperhead peace agitators would seize the
occasion for stirring up their adherents to arms and lighting
the fires of a Northern insurrection at a hundred points at
once across the continent. Such are the fearful dangers which
now menace the national cause – the dangers of a successful
rebel descent upon Washington, with all the fearful
consequences we have suggested, and all from the imbecility,
incredulity, laziness and incompetency of the administration,
as now organized, and its immediate military advisers.
Will nothing but a rebel bombardment arouse President
Lincoln to a sense of his insecurity? Has it never occurred to
him that in desperate extremities bold and daring men are equal
to the most desperate enterprises? Has it never been hinted to
him that General Early in the late raid was only the pilot and
pioneer of General Lee? Has he never suspected that such rebel
peace emissaries as George Sanders and Company are only
employed as decoy ducks to lead him astray? Does he not know
that the loyal North is full of dark conspirators, watching for
the opportunity to strike for a Reign of Terror? We do not
know, but we would earnestly implore you, Mr. President, to
believe that in all these things there is danger. How, then,
are these perils to be avoided? Not by a draft in September,
but by a capable and harmonious Cabinet, and by a strong
supporting army to Gen. Grant in front of Washington at once.
Give us an efficient Cabinet, put General McClellan in command
of the Department of Washington, and call for three months
volunteers to serve under him, to the extent of one hundred and
fifty thousand men, and there will be no necessity for a draft
in September. Washington will soon be made secure against any
contingency, General Grant will be enabled to make short work
of Richmond, the war will speedily be ended, and the
Presidential campaign will culminate in a blaze of glory to the
Union and the administration.
In good faith and in all sincerity, in behalf of the
national cause, and in view of the approval of the
administration by the people, we yet once more ask the
attention of Mr. Lincoln to these reflections and these


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