Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Covington Journal, April 6, 1861: Two views of a potential war

Here is a story again showing little respect for the Federal government and its war preparations and much confidence in the abilities of the Confederates. Note the irony dripping from the very first line of this piece.

Exciting News!
After making some allowance for the proverbial inclination of reporters to magnify everything they write about, there is still enough in the dispatches of the last few days to excite the alarm of every friend of Peace. The hasty movements of troops and the unwonted activity in the naval department indicate a purpose on the part of the government at Washington to strike a decisive blow.

There is only one consideration that leads us to believe Lincoln does not intend to make war just now, and that is the utter powerlessness of the Washington government on land. In the event of war we see nothing to prevent the entry of JEFF. DAVIS into Washington city within thirty days at the head of a victorious army.

The same edition publishes the following article including comments from another paper that had different visions of the future. This article is untitled.

The Newburyport Herald, a Black Republican coercion paper of the most stringent sort, indulges in visions of boundless slaughter and devastation:

"We feel certain that though war to preserve the unity of this country might and probably would change the form of government, yet if that unity could be  had at no cost short of a million of lives and a thousand millions of money, and it were for us personally to decide, we would say let the martyrs die, let the property go, but let the country remain. We may sack the cities, burn the towns, waste the fields; we may destroy the commerce, close up the mines, and stop the manufactories;  we may make every valley a Thermopylae, every hill a Bunker Hill and every plain a Waterloo; we may give the sea to drink up the blood of the fallen, the earth to enrich with the bodies of the dead, and the atmosphere to be pestilential with the effluvia of the battle slaughter; we may plunge every family into mourning, fill the towns with widows and the land with orphans, but from this disaster we may rise again, if the country itself survives."

You may bet your life that the writer of the foregoing paragraph would make it a point to be out of harm's way in case a collision should occur.

Those are certainly two different views (or previews) of how some viewed a potential war, and both make for tough talk, but the Newburyport Herald (from Massachusetts) certainly came closer to what eventually happened.


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