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A.S.M.and the newspaper heading
From Capt. McClure's Company. The transcription was kindly provided by website contributor John M. Pierson. Spelling and grammatical corrections were not made.
In this letter Capt. McClure gives a rousing speech of patriotic zeal in support of the United States, comparing the condition of the Union one year earlier with that of July 4 of 1862.
From Capt. McClure's Company.
Cumberland Gap, Tenn.,
July 4, 1862.
Mr. Editor: I have nothing important to communicate of this Division. Encamped among the mountains of Tennessee, enjoying the cool breezes that sweep through its shady valleys, refreshed by pure streams proceeding from fountains deep, embroidered with mountain rocks, not compounded with the great events of Corinth, not participating in the exciting affairs of Richmond, we are overlooked by the nation. You may examine in vain the leading journals of the day for a narration of the transactions of this Division. Yet have we done the Government some service. For six long months we have observed that great highway of communication, over which Zollicoffer's army passed on its way to possess Lexington, and to bring fears of the safety of Cincinnati. We have kept a superior force of the enemy digging in the mountains to erect fortifications from which, they vainly thought neither the vicissitudes of war nor the strategy of the foe could ever expel them. Nor have we had no share of deprivations. Frequently have the boys growled over half-rations. Frequently have they cursed the fortune that placed them here among the mountains, to watch a pass of invasion, when they might have been out winning game on the field, honoring their homes, or vindicating their discipline. Our prospects of advance are not inspiring. I heard, and well-derived that 2,000 Irishmen with their shovels and picks are daily expected to embank the mountains. If this be true, it foreshadows the permanent occupation of Cumberland Gap, either as the end of retrogression in case of disaster or as a great commissary storehouse. It may be that in the conduct of the war, a division of the army of the Union will be pushed from this point through North Carolina, or it may be that the variations of the struggle will transfer the general fight into East Tennessee; in either case Cumberland Gap is of the most intrinsic military importance. All our assertions about advance or occupation are of course speculations. New combinations of the revolted forces necessitate new combinations of the adhering army. An encampment that today looks like a fixed habitation, may tomorrow be abandoned as unimportant.
The 4th of July is receiving such commemoration in the 7th Division as the discipline of camp and the absence of display confer. Many of us are left alone in our tents to the silence of meditation. I have just received a dispatch of a great battle fought before Richmond where much American blood was shed, and with divided success; yet nothing tangible or official has been received.
Contrast the condition of our country on the 4th of July, 1861, with its condition the 4th of July, 1862, and you will discover no right to discouragement, but much right to hope. Balance our advances with our repulses, our victories with our disasters, and the scales of the Union ponderously outweigh. In July, 1861, the Confederate troops stood in embanked opposition to us at Manassas. A semicircle of fortifications extending from the Potomac to the Mississippi, planned with all the skill of those graduated by the bounty of the Republic, and placed in high places by here liberality was begun. All the encounter of our arms had been disastrous. Price had taken the initial in the devastation of Missouri. The banks of the Mississippi from the confluence of the Ohio to its mouth were crowded with blockading guns. All the arsenals, dock-yards and forts belonging to the United States in the territory of the revolt, were occupied by the Rebellion. Exultation rioted all over the South. By the fortunes of an invasion, in the heart of the free States over the arteries of free labor, the compact of Slavery's freedom and the bond of the Union's disruption were to be negotiated, sealed, ratified, exchanged. Gloom shrouded the brows of all patriots, as heavy as the perils which encompassed our beloved instructions. Some foreign Powers secretly rejoiced over the foretold partition of the territory and division of the glory of that young Republic, which, founded among the wilds of the Western Hemisphere, had, in the few years of its career, threatened to eclipse the oldest Monarchies and which was outvieing that dead Republic, whose laws, literature and eloquence are still the admiration of civilized man all over the globe.
How cheeringly different is the scene today. The national flag may be seen in every disloyal State. Halleck is in Mississippi; Curtis in Arkansas; Butler in Louisiana; Buell in Tennessee; Burnside in North Carolina; and McClellan has gathered around him in front of the entrenchments of Richmond and before the last organized stand of the rebellion, an army far superior to the army which he who first destroyed the authority of the Roman Senate carried into Gaul, and hardly less splendid than that Grand Army of Napoleon, which, turning its back on the conflagration of Moscow, perished in the snow of the North by the judgment of the Almighty. Everywhere victory after victory, advance after advance have illustrated our arms, and abridged the area of insurrection to half of its original usurpations.
The navigation of the Mississippi has been opened. The proportions of our army and the iron invulnerability of our navy extort the respect of foreign Powers. By as much as we were formerly depressed, have we now a right to exult. By as much as we were formerly disastrous, are we now successful. By as much as the rebellion formerly advanced, is it now rapidly receding. It is to be hoped that by the unflinching fidelity of the people; by the bravery of our soldiers in the field, by the capacity of the Federal Treasury; and finally, by the wisdom and moderation of the Executive Administration, our Republic will soon be reclaimed to its normal condition of amity and union.
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