August 6, 1863
---In the New York Times appears a remarkable editorial on the question of Providence and God’s assisting the North in its victories. (I guess it would be remarkable because we cannot imagine the Times publishing anything in favor of religious faith in our day.) The editorial argues that after National Fast Day on April 30, the fortunes of the North have all turned toward victory:
The future historian will unquestionably designate that as the very darkest period of the struggle. All the gigantic efforts which had been for months kept up for the reopening of the Mississippi by the capture of Vicksburgh had failed utterly, and to all appearance there was no further resource. The army of ROSECRANS, after the terrible and indecisive fight at Murfreesboro, had remained inactive for more than four months, confronted by its adversary in a position seemingly impregnable to all attack. All the high hopes that had been formed of the irresistible power of the Monitors had just been dashed by their utter and absolute failure in their attack upon Charleston. In the first week of May, the Army of the Potomac, under Gen. HOOKER, was hurled back with terrible slaughter from a new attempt to march upon Richmond, upon the success of which the nation had seemed to stake its last hopes. In all our important operations every where we were baffled, and apparently brought to a dead stand. The time was close at hand when the armies were to be decimated by the expiration of enlistments, with no prospect of making good the loss. And what was even more alarming than all, the North was fast becoming fatally divided. Weak men were everywhere exclaiming that Heaven had deserted the cause; and false men, with a skill it seemed impossible to thwart, were perfecting their plans and their organizations for forcing upon the Government submission to the rebels. The nation was then in its lowermost depth of humiliation — exulted over by its enemies, scorned by strangers, and weighed down with a sense of helplessness that amounted almost to despair. Well might the nation cry out, as it then did in its anguish, to Heaven for deliverance.
The editor then constrasts this picture with what has happened since then:
Three months have passed, and what a change! . . . Success after success has waited upon the Republic in almost unbroken succession. . . . Everything, great and small, seems to have conspired to restore the cause of the Republic. Two events particularly loom up as of surpassing moment — the capture of Vicksburgh, and the discomfiture of LEE’s last and mightiest attempt upon Washington. It was on Fast day that GRANT landed the advance of his army on the eastern side of the Mississippi below Vicksburgh. His capture of Grand Gulf, his march inland away from the base of supplies, his uninterrupted victories until three weeks afterward he brought up his army in the rear of the rebel stronghold, and the siege which followed, will always stand as remarkable in military history. And then the fact that the final capitulation was made on the nation’s birthday, however coldly we may reason about it, cannot but make its own peculiar impression. . . . When Vicksburgh was given up, the Confederacy, in its defensive relations, was ruined. It its aggressive capacity, its fate was concurrently scaled. LEE’s Northern invasion, it is now fully understood, had the capture of Washington as its prime object, and that of Baltimore and Philadelphia as an ulterior purpose. He and his entire army had the utmost confidence of success; and, in fact, he came far nearer succeeding than is generally imagined. Nothing but what NAPIER in his great military history calls “Fortune, that name for the unknown combination’s of Infinite Power,” saved us from being out-generated and overwhelmed in that awful week. This will be better understood some day when the full history of that marvelous campaign comes to be written. Had LEE succeeded in his plans, framed with such consummate skill, and backed up with an army of almost matchless prowess, it is difficult to see how it would not have made him complete master of the East, and have impelled the foreign Powers to recognize the Confederacy, for which they have been so long seeking a decent occasion. But thanks to Providence, LEE did not succeed. The morning sun of the Fourth found him beaten and confounded, and turning his steps backwards. . . . The fate of the rebellion, in every mode of action, was sealed. It could thenceforward sustain but a languishing and spasmodic existence. . . . We might mention, in addition to these two great decisive triumphs, the minor advantages which have been gained — the defeat at Helena, by a greatly inferior force, of the army which sought to save and fortify that point, to prevent further supplies to GRANT — the reduction of Port Hudson, the last rebel foothold on the Mississippi — the outmanoeuvring and bloodless forcing of BRAGG’s army out of Tennessee — the opportune destruction of the great rebel iron-clad Atlanta, which threatened terrible damage to our blockade — the capture of MORGAN’s force, which had been the scourge of the West — the brilliant cavalry victories, which have made that arm a power for the National cause hardly before dreamed of; — all these would have figured gloriously had they not been overshadowed by the other colossal successes. . . .
Calmly surveying everything, in general and in particular, it is impossible to doubt that the salvation of the nation has been substantially assured within the last three months. . . . Among all true men it will be a day of gratitude, at once devout and joyful.