Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 16.djvu/262
256 Southern Historical Society Papers.
with me, was not heard among the men who had the whipping to do We who did meet " the three Yankees," know well that we met men as brave as ourselves, if differing with us in temperament and in the manner of their warfare. But we did meet " the three Yankees." and it did take, if not three, at least two and a half to one to destroy our armies at last. The total number of men called under arms by the Government of the United States, between April, 1861, and April, 1865, amounted to 2,759,049, of whom 2,656,053, were actually em- bodied in the Federal armies. Foreign military authorities have put down the number of men embodied in the Confederate armies as 1,100,000. But this we know to be a great exaggeration, taken from Northern sources; for even " robbing the cradle and the grave," there was scarcely a million of men able to bear arms in the Confederate States, nor did we have arms to put in their hands had we so many.
Let me give you here, my comrades, my version of General Grant's famous unfulfilled boast, that " he would fight it out on this line if it took all the summer." I refer to this often quoted saying as a boast, because it has been generally so understood ; but I have always rather regarded it as a pledge or promise demanded of him alike by the manhood of the North as by the timidity of the officials at Washington.
When the Confederate Government determined to subordinate mili- tary considerations to political, it required no greater strategical skill than was possessed by us of the line to perceive that we had offered to our enemy a most vulnerable point, which, unlike that of Achilles, was not only the most vulnerable, but the most vital point of the Confederacy, that its throat all through the war was bared to the knife whenever the Federal generals should be allowed to destroy rather than attempt to whip us ; that the James river was the sure, if not easy, road to the Confederate capital. McClellan was too pro- fessional a soldier to be willing to strike anywhere else while that was open to him; so, in the spring of 1862, he essayed the task with a force of 153,000 men, against which General Johnston had present for duty but 53,688 just about one to three. After a month's resistance McClellan approached Richmond on June 20, 1862, with a force of 115,102, against which General Lee, in the Seven Days' battle, had but 80,762, scarcely more than one to two. Yet, with this force, McClellan was driven back to his gunboats. But, notwithstanding this reverse, the manhood of the North demanded again a fair fight on an open field, and an answer to this boast that we would fight three to one. No victory by mere strategical skill, aided by gun-