February 16, 1862
SATURDAY, MARCH 1, 1862.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END.
THE capture of Fort Donelson, with 15,000 men, including both the Generals Buckner and Bushrod Johnston, is probably the culminating point in the struggle between the United States Government and the malcontents. At the hour we write General Buell, with 80,000 men, is pressing upon the Cumberland River; while General Grant, with 50,000, and Flag-officer Foote, with his gun-boat and mortar fleet, are ascending the same stream from the bend at Dover. Rumor states that the remnant of the garrison of Fort Donelson, with part of the Bowling Green army, have taken refuge at Clarksville, and seem disposed to make a stand there. If they do, they will inevitably share the fate of the army which has just surrendered. The events of the past week have rendered its indisputable masters of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, of Nashville and all Northern Tennessee, and of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. Wherever we meet the enemy we shall be three to one, and by far superior to them in equipments, commissariat, clothing, transportation, and arms.
The fate of Columbus, Memphis, and consequently New Orleans, is now sealed. It is hardly probable that the right reverend rebel Leonidas Polk will wait to be caught in the trap he has built for himself at Columbus. If he does, we shall by-and-by take him and all his force without firing a gun. If he evacuates his present post, the rebels themselves admit that they can not defend any other point on the Mississippi. One Union army of enormous strength will advance on Memphis from Nashville, while another Union army under Halleck’s generals will drive Price before them through Arkansas, and both will meet on the Mississippi in time to co-operate with Flag-officer Foote’s gun-boat and mortar-fleet. Unless some unforeseen accident occurs the whole Mississippi will be ours, from the Gulf to Cairo, by 15th March.
Meanwhile, Burnside is cutting off the retreat of the Virginia army through North Carolina, and making ready to take Norfolk. When he was at the mouth of the Roanoke the people of Weldon fled from their houses. Norfolk should be in our possession as soon as Memphis.
Simultaneously, Dupont and Sherman are moving against Savannah, and Commodore Porter’s fleet is on the way to Mobile and New Orleans.
Against such a combination of forces working together on such a plan, how long can the rebellion last?