Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October 15, 1862

October 15, 1862:  A correspondent for the New York Times writes of the triumphant movement of the armies of the Union in the West over the summer campaigns---with the exception of Buell, whose movements are so slow that it appears Bragg and Kirby-Smith will in fact escape destruction:

I am told that in Central Kentucky they [the Rebels] have done little better in recruiting than they did in Maryland. They have no doubt got a great deal of forage, provisions and salt, but can carry very little away. They could scarcely get into Kentucky through the rough passes of the Cumberland; and how are they to got out with long trains of loaded wagons? You may depend upon one thing, that the rebels will go out of Kentucky as speedily as possible. But this does not satisfy us. Why should they get out safely? It would have seemed three weeks ago to have been impossible; and yet now, I think, they will probably leave without a decisive battle. Why? Because BUELL’s army, instead of marching in the rear of BRAGG when he came out from Tennessee, marched round in a circuit to the West, in order to reach Louisville before BRAGG . . .

One of the great difficulties with BUELL’s army is its enormous and unwieldy train; very like that of an Asiatic army. BUELL had 1,800 waggons, which if each occupied, fifty feet, would make eighteen miles. I am told that in fact the train was twenty-five miles long. . . . The result was that Gen. BUELL did not cut off the rebels; but, on the contrary went round them, and that now our immense army in Kentucky is in front of them, I see not why (if they do not commit the same blunder of marching with an immense train) they may not escape.

From Cairo to Wheeling we have now full two hundred thousand good troops, and there is nothing to prevent their going forward with irresistible force. Two hundred and fifty miles of marching, with each column, and with little fighting — for the rebels can make no successful stand — will put the Army of the Kanawha in the Valley of Virginia, and the army of BUELL in Knoxville anda Chattanooga, — just where they ought to have been one year ago.

One year lost! Why should we have lost it? Plainly, the want of sagacity in the Government and of generalship in the army. A Republic has to learn war by bitter experience. But time gives experience, and in the end success. The marches I speak of a good General could accomplish in thirty days; a tolerable one could easily do it in fifty; I hope that we shall do it in some time.

This brings me to the Emancipation Proclamation, which so many people denounced in advance, and for which so many officers were to resign. Not one resigned or ever will for such a reason. The objections made to emancipation were mere moonshine. Everybody, except the accession sympathizers, have discovered that it was just the thing! . . .

---Gen. Buell, giving chase (albeit spiritlessly and at a crawling pace) to Bragg’s Confederates, believe that he has  Bragg trapped as his troops block roads and escape routes.  However, instead of heading south to Nashville, Bragg turns southeast.  Unknown to Buell, Bragg has already decided that the campaign is a bust, and is intent on retreating out of Kentucky.

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