The following article comes from the New York Herald, on Monday, April 8, 1861, four days before the Battle of Fort Sumter, the conventional beginning of the Civil War. The article mentions that ships left New York on the previous Saturday, which would have been April 6, 1861.
Invasion of the South--The Inauguration of Civil War
By order of the federal government, on Saturday ships of war and transports, with troops, provisions, stores, ammunition and arms, large and small; tools, sandbags, spades and other siege tools; stalls for horses, boats, boat howitzers for landing, and "all the circumstance of war," cleared from [New York] with sealed orders, for parts unknown. The city was like a camp, and the excitement was intense. Some of the officers of the army, knowing the bloody mission on which the Powhatan and Atlantic are sent, resigned rather than mingle in the fratricidal conflict. The ships which have sailed are but the van; others are preparing to follow them, not only from this port, but from the Navy Yard of Charlestown, Massachusetts, where there is the same warlike activity as at Brooklyn and New York.
It is thus evident that a bloody civil war is resolved upon by Mr. Lincoln and his Cabinet. After long hesitation, the President has screwed his courage to the fighting point. At what precise spot he intends to commence hostilities or to provoke them--whether at Charleston, Pensacola, the mouths of the Mississippi or in Texas, where there is an evident design to excite "domestic insurrection," or at all of these places together--does not yet appear; but a few days will unfold the mystery.
To Mr. Lincoln, his Cabinet and the leaders of the republican party three courses are open--first, to yield to the Confederate States and to all the slaveholding communities their just rights as coequal partners in the Union, which would have had the effect of healing the breach and reuniting the sections; second, to permit a peaceable and bloodless separation, either in the hope of reunion at a future day, or at least of a friendly alliance for mutual defense against foreign foes, and for the establishment of commercial relations, which, if not specifically favoring the North, would at least not discriminate against her; and third, to wage a war of subjugation against seven sovereign States, which will be ultimately extended to fifteen, to compel them to submit to the authority of the government at Washington, and to pay tribute to it, whether they are represented in its Congress or not, in contravention to the great principle for which the colonies fought and conquered the mother country in the Revolution of 1776--the principle that "without representation there can be no taxation."
The first of the three courses was the best, and would have been that of a statesman. The second is the next best course, because the most successful war could only lead to the same result after inflicting an amount of suffering and calamity upon the country at which the imagination is appalled. As for now restoring the revolted States to the Union by war, that is the wildest chimera that ever entered the brain of man. But it is probable that even if the Northern section should succeed in subduing the South (for that is the naked aspect of the war when stripped of all its disguise), the same favorable terms would not be obtained, certainly not the same entente cordiale so necessary to the future peace and prosperity of both sections, as could be secured by the peaceful arts of diplomacy and statesmanship, which seem to have been completely ignored at Washington. The third course has been adopted, and that is unquestionably the worst of all. If it fails, and that is very possible, it will be destructive to the prestige and to the interests of the North, to say nothing of the overwhelming expense and debt which it will entail upon the country, the many hearths it will leave desolate and the feelings of bitter eternal enmity which it will have engendered between two geographical sections separated by an imperceptible line.
The pretence of carrying out the laws of this Union in the confederate States, enforcing the federal authority and collecting the revenue, is too transparent to deceive any person. It has been clearly demonstrated that it is impossible to accomplish these objects without civil war of the most ferocious kind. To make the attempt, therefore, is deliberately to commence a war whose end the present generation may not live to see, and whose disastrous effects will be such as to annihilate the accumulated wealth of the country at a blow, and throw back its progress half a century. The real object of the war is not to collect revenue, nor to assert the authority of the federal government, nor to protect its property. It is a war of propagandism--a war against the social institutions of fifteen States--a war to extirpate negro slavery, if not to exterminate slaveholders. It is the irrepressible conflict predicted by Mr. Seward and Mr. Lincoln, and for which Garrison, Giddings and the blood-thirsty abolitionists of their fanatical party have been laboring for the last thirty years. It is a revival of the struggle which took place two centuries ago in England between the Puritan Roundheads and the rest of the nation. The vast majority of the people were against them, but by the military genius and iron will of Cromwell the fanatics were rendered successful for a time, after putting their king to death and deluging their native land with seas of blood. But when their chieftain died, their cause died with him, showing that it had no root in the affections of the people, and that it was equally opposed to human nature and the freedom of man. Hence, when Charles II, who had nothing personally to recommend him, was restored, he was "proclaimed with a pomp never before known." A fleet conveyed him from Holland to the coast of Kent; for that republic had no sympathy with the fanaticism of the Puritan republic of England. When Charles landed the cliffs of Dover were covered with thousands of gazers, among whom, says the historian Macaulay, "scarcely one could be found who was not weeping with delight. The journey to London was a continued triumph. The whole road to Rochester was bordered by booths and tents, and looked like an interminable fair. Everywhere flags were flying, bells and music sounding, wine and ale flowing in rivers to the health of him whose return was the return of peace, of law, of freedom."
That was the last of the Puritan faction in England. They have never revived. But their descendants here, the inheritors of their principles and their blood, now seek to inaugurate another civil war upon a question of morals, religion and social polity, in States over which they have not, and ought not to have, any control. Like their ancestors in Great Britain, they are in a small minority, but by an accident and the divisions of the people they have contrived to get hold of the reins of government; they have the sword of the nation, and for the present its purse. With this temporary power in their hands, they are preparing to embark in internecine strife, against the will of three-fourths of the people. But whether they will be fortunate enough to find another Cromwell to lead them remains to be seen. From our accounts the military talent of the army has espoused the side of the Southern confederacy. The South, moreover, is united to a man when it comes to blow, while the North is divided, and will be rent asunder by still greater divisions as the war proceeds, if even insurrections and revolutions do not take place in several Northern States. Soon the government will find itself in the position of the British government in the war of our first Revolution, only in a still greater degree. There will be such a storm of opposition, together with a positive refusal to furnish the sinews of war, that the Lincoln administration will be compelled to succumb in disgrace, amidst the execrations of the people and the curses of mankind. And that will be the end of the Puritanical faction in North America.