from the Worcester Palladium, October 30, 1861 , (Volume 28 # 44), 


 The sensibilities of the whole community have been shocked by the disaster of last week at Ball’s Bluff.  All the details of the event are in another part of this paper, and need not be repeated here.  We know not upon whose shoulders the responsibility rests, that another chapter has been added to the to the long series of blunders that have given a character to our military movements.

 It is a consolation, however, to believe that none of it attaches to the officers and men of our gallant Fifteenth Regiment, who for nine hours stood manfully under the galling fire of regiments of riflemen, with a full consciousness that they themselves had been sent into service with arms that did not deserve the name of muskets, and only retreated when their numbers had been decimated, and the awful necessity was before them of attempting security by plunging into a river.  Another Massachusetts regiment, the twentieth, as well as Col. Baker’s California regiment, shared with the 15th the perils and the defeat.

 At this distance. it seems a stupendous error that an attempt should have been made to march upon Leesburg without the most ample arrangements for crossing and recrossing the river with any force that the chances of war might require.  If, however, the dear bought experience at Ball’s Bluff shall secure us from such calamities in the future, it will be some slight consolation to the many among us upon whom the sad tidings of disaster shut down like a funeral pall.


 It is time to say to the administration at Washington , that the people, for the last few weeks, have been exceedingly sensitive about the conduct of the war.  But the movement of the great naval expedition down the southern coast has somewhat changed the tone of popular feeling.  The people know full well and appreciate fully, the immense embarrassments under which the administration commenced its existence; the treason that had brooded in the cabinet of Mr. Buchanan, and spread itself over half of the Union; the disloyalty that had eaten, like a canker, into the very vitals of the army, of the navy, and indeed in each and every branch of the public service; the corruption that had despoiled the government of its arms and ammunition, its fortifications and ships, and even of the public money so needful to the government, so necessary to the rebels to carry out the mischief they had plotted.

 All these things were known to the people, and all felt that great allowances must be made for any seeming deficiency  the action of the government.  But the sailing of the naval expedition discloses the fact that the government has performed a great labor in getting together a magnificent fleet with all its appointments, and a powerful force for land service, sufficient to reduce to ashes any seaport of the revolted states, if it shall persist in   maintaining its adherence to the rebellion movement.

 That the people had become sensitive, there was no cause for marvel; for the season was fast gliding away, and more than three months had gone past since the gigantic blunder of what was called, in the day of it, “The Grand Army of the Potomac .”  Like the handwriting on the wall, the great mortification had stood three months before the government and the people, without the signs that anyone had learned the lesson which the Bull Run disaster should have burnt into the memory of all.

 It may be said that now the people do not trouble themselves much with the inquiry where the fault lies the most, that our military operations, thus far, have been almost a continuous series of blunders, from those of Norfolk and Great Bethel to that at ball’s Bluff; and that in all of them our men have found themselves, in scores or at most in hundreds, over-matched by the enemy in thousands.  All feel that for these blunders a heavy responsibility rests somewhere; that our patriotic young men, of the free north have gone with a burning ardor into the service of the country, only to find themselves led into traps and ambushes, where they have been literally cut down as the “ harvest of death.”  The sensitiveness of our people upon this subject must be pardoned, for the black tidings of the last few days have spread consternation over large sections of the commonwealth, and carried grief the most poignant to many a heart and household.

 It is hoped that the time has now gone by when it would have been thought an impropriety to say to the administration, that an end would one day be found to this most extraordinary chain of events; and that its last link, in all probability, would be found at no great distance in the future.  Surely there is no occasion to tell this administration, that the loyal people of the country have lavished upon it a wealth of confidence; that they may have confided in it as no administration was ever confided in before.

 The evidence accumulates at every point.  Party organizations have been flung aside, that men of all parties might stand shoulder to shoulder to support the government in the prosecution of this war against traitors and rebels.  Capitalists have poured their money into the national treasury without stint, and to such an extent that the government has enough for the most pressing exigency.  And what is more important still, men of alleges, and every grade and class and occupation in life, have responded to the call of the government with so much alacrity and free will, that the administration has four hundred thousand soldiers in the field ; All Volunteers, and not a conscript among them.

 As in view of this fact, every American may ask with an honest pride: Where in the world’s history are we to look for a parallel?  But this is not all.  If, as most of us believe, “there is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we will,” then have we evidence the most indubitable, that god is and will be upon our side in this sharp conflict, if we but listen to and accept the teachings of his providence; such as the gracious benignity he has displayed, in this our day of national trial, in the propitious seasons of the passing year, in which the land has yielded so bountifully of its products that we can not only supply the wants of the people and the army, but that while carrying on this war, we are also able to supply the deficiencies of European crops; and thus, by giving bread to the hungry, bind those great peoples to us as with bands of steel.

 There is no superstition in the belief that the almighty is upon our side in this national struggle, and will be to the end, if the government and the people but have a true sensibility to what seem to be his manifest purposes in permitting this great rebellion to come into existence.  But if we are to blind to read “signs of the times;” false to our convictions of right, false to our obligations and our duty to God and to man, false to humanity and the better civilization of the age, then we shall have no reason to expect the blessings of Heaven, or indeed anything but disasters and ultimate failure, in the terrible conflict into which we have entered.

 It is time to hope that all such astounding blunders as those at Great Bethel, at Vienna , at Bull Run , and at Ball’s Bluff, are no more to be perpetrated.  If the army has been ORNAMENTED with incompetent officers, it is time that all such should give place  to men of sagacity, and caution, and skill, who have prudence enough not to advance until they are ready to move, sagacity enough not to tread upon the enemies ground until a through reconnaissance has been made, not to march a feeble force against one out numbering it  many times over, and especially not to move forward without providing ample means  for a safe and orderly retreat, should an emergency demand it.

 So far as we have understood public sentiment, there is no disposition among the people to press the administration into any movement until it has had the most ample time to make all needful preparation for such movement.  They are not indifferent to the power of that “masterly inactivity” that holds an enemy by his wrists until he falls by sheer exhaustion.  But then they want to feel some sort of assurance that the enemy is thus held; and that we are not thus held by them.

 There is one thing, however, which the whole loyal people of the country would tell the administration as with the voice of one man, not in any fault finding temper, but as an assurance of the all pervading interest which is felt in this war, that there are two many unreliable men, (and perhaps women too,) in and around the government.  A committee of congress have reported  that there are four hundred and seventy-two secessionists connected with the executive departments at Washington .  If this is a true report, then there are 472 men on this side of the Potomac who ought to be on the other side, or somewhere else.

 There is no disposition among the people to direct a single movement of the administration, or put it under constraint.  On the contrary they have shown a facility, that is a marvel, in rushing to its aid in any and every emergency in which it is placed.  But they do ask that the administration will rid itself, once for all, of then disloyal men around it who betray its confidence, and keep the enemy so well advised of the secret plans and purposes of the government, that for us the war has been thus far but little more than a record of mortifying defeats and painful disasters.



15th Massachusetts VI