The Illustrated London News

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London, Saturday, July 26, 1862

The Illustrated London News, vol.41, no.1156, p.98.

July 26, 1862


For the time, at all events, the tide seems to have turned. Details of the six days of fighting near Richmond have arrived, and it will need something more than a speech from Mr. Lincoln to convince the world that the Federals were not, in his delightful language, "whipped." The whipping was certainly administered with immense vigour and disastrous effect. That General M'Clellan is now safe, under the protection of the gun-boats, which have again proved of the utmost value in the strangest campaign on record, is probably true; but the contrast between the vauntful promises and the almost piteous reference to the last date at which guns were lost is very significant. The largest statements were set flying, to the effect that at least five armies, numbering 130,000 men, were all marching on Richmond; but we have heard all this kind of thing before. The best thing that can be said is that, apart from the bombast necessary for civil consumption, General M'Clellan has a right to take credit for having got a portion of his army well out of a terrible scrape; but it is insulting common sense to talk of a rapid flight over seventeen miles, the loss of a very large number of guns, and the abandoning dead and wounded, as anything but a defeat of the most signal character; and it is not a healthy sign that a Government is afraid to trust a people with the truth, and compels a brave soldier to frame addresses in the style of Napoleon at Astley's Amphitheatre. The slaughter of those days should have made men grave and truthful; it is almost impossible to realise the fact that some five and twenty thousand men were either killed or hors de combat, but so the estimates, now permitted to ooze out, represent the case to be. A new success gained by the Confederates in the South is reported, and we learn that B√Ęton Rouge has fallen into their hands, with 1500 prisoners. The ruffian Butler may begin to tremble in New Orleans. A battle with Halleck was thought to be impending. Finally, all reports certify that "an uneasy feeling as to both military and political matters prevails," and this is a vague formula, yet one which has often preceded news of strange disruptions in the Old World.

In our own Parliament silence has been at last broken upon the American question, and in a debate, raised by Mr. Lindsay, the House was asked to consider whether England ought to interfere. But we are glad to say that the Commons preserved the self-control which has so creditably characterised their proceedings in reference to America. No speaker of first-class position took part in the debate except Lord Palmerston, who spoke only to deprecate discussion and to urge that so difficult and important a subject should be left to the Government. There was little that fell from any of the debaters that should annoy either Northerns or Southrons, at least such among them as are aware that Mr. Whiteside is rather liked for a vituperation which disturbs the dullness of the House, but is nobody when heads are counted. The other speakers displayed the most laudable moderation of language.

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