|from The Webster Times,
THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG
Our readers are doubtless familiar with the history of the conflict of 14th of December, from the reports in the daily papers, and we know, ere this reaches them, that another disaster has been visited upon us. Oh that we might write, instead, that victory had perched upon our helmets! The bitter, almost insupportable shame of the “accident” is heightened by the stinging, though unintended, sarcasms conveyed through paragraphs in the daily journals.
As, for instance, “the rebels are starving”, ”the rebels are ragged, without powder, ball, or caissons for their guns;” in short, That Falstaff's ragged regiment was the National Guard in comparison to them the poor, wretched, deluded beings!
What are such comments as these worth but to fasten deeper in our side the thorn of disgrace and shame? Is the country really degenerate? Is the spirit which of old hurled back our foes from these shores and from these mountains and hills which God never intended to be other than free, quenched and dead?
No! a thousand times no! The blood that shed itself in vain, in fronting the quivering lines of certain death that flashed demonically before the eyes of those heroes who crossed the Rappahannock in open boats to dislodge the rebel sharpshooters, is the type of that fire which blazed of old against those who sought to overthrow the liberties we love. Of what use are the sacred dead who lie scattered through thousands of miles over this broad and once fair land?
Tell us who it is, for it is not the rank and file who delay the consummation of our victories and the restoration of the peaceful arts; what clue to this worse than Cretan labyrinth do the telegrams FitzJohn Porter forwarded to McClellan afford, as quoted by the New York Tribune of the 18th of December last? What a spectacle do they present of jealousy, hate and contemptible rivalry, through which means the nation was disgraced and a good soldier degraded in the last battle at Manassas.
Alas! for America when she fell from the hands of honest patriots into those of politicians: when party strife and party weal or woe obtained the reins of power. Not Jehu when he drove the ear of Phoebus, and threw the chariot of the sun out of its accustomed course, wreaked half such confusion upon the nether world as exists at this moment among us politically
Oh! if the dead who lie calmly sleeping in their graves upon the bleak hillsides could speak from their narrow homes, what reproaches would they utter against those whose folly, and want of fitness for their place, had brought them thus low? The sire, the man of mature age, youth, infant even, in one common grave, the bosom of our loved country, sleep calmly forever, is it strange then, in view of recent events, that we stand today with our currency depreciated, and our taxes threatening to overwhelm us, the wonder and contempt of the pettiest nations of the earth?
We have not degenerated! In proof of this assertation are the record of the rank and file, how glorious it is! There is no necessity of pricking them into the fight at the point of a sword. The 88th Pennsylvania built a pontoon bridge across the river, and would have crossed, or did cross to the enemy in spite of the dangers which threatened them: what a glory this should be to the old Keystone state: and a little child ten years of age crossed in the first boat with the noble four hundred of the 7th Michigan, who first advanced on Fredericksburg, and beat his little note of defiance in the face of the foe.
Such actions as these almost redeem the disgrace which has fallen upon us. Thirteen thousand five hundred of our bravest men are placed hors du combat, and for naught; what a holocaust! Men are thrown forward and face blazing batteries on which they are piled like faggot wood, and when the action is found useless, they retire and recross the river, as we are gravely told, without loss. What of those who never recrossed the river, and who lie stark and stiff upon the whitened and frosty fields, an awful reproach to their leaders want of prudence and consideration for them?
With what heavy hearts we read the now stale old repetition, that the rebels are starved and ragged and disheartened. Yes, so they may be, but they slay a whole town in a few hours and still present an unbroken front. There is no use hiding or higgleing over facts: there is no earthly benefit to be derived from representing disasters as victories, or palming off defeats as credible skirmishes. And those who telegraph such things from the battlefields forget that this is an age in which truth, apart from them far outstrips the lightning.
We have never faltered in our allegiance to the Government, or been wanting in the most implicit faith in its ability, but when we view such “feats of arms” as the one we record, not in anger but in grief, we cannot but feel anxious for the future. God grant that the turning point is not far distant.---- Scientific American: