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1864 January 9: Amazement at the Vastness of the Union’s Operations

January 12, 2014

This article, reprinted from the Albany Journal, appeared in the January 9, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.

From the Albany Journal.

Those who denounce the heads of Government as “incompetents,” “slow coaches,” &c., will do well to scan the heads of the different Departments just published.  While mistakes have been committed, and errors of judgement have occurred, it is safe to say that no men have ever worked harder, or served the interests of the country with more earnest and conscientious zeal.  The wonder is, not that more has not been done, but that so much has been done and done so well.  The feeling with which we peruse these documents is one of absolute amazement over the vastness of the operations of the Government during the past twelve months.  The world has never witnessed anything like it.  All the wars which that [sic] have preceeded [sic] the one now on our hands, shrink into insignificance in comparison.  The campaigns of Cæsar and Napoleon appear Lilliputian beside the one we have been conducting during the past eighteen months.

Take as a sample, the operations of the War Department.  Over twelve hundred thousand men have been raised, armed, clothed and equipped since the war broke out.  Of this vast number, the draft has produced fifty thousand ;  while fifty thousand blacks have been put into the field during the past year.  Of cannon, small arms, accourtrements [sic] and equipments for men and horses, and ammunition obtained buring [sic] the year, we have the following summary :—1,377 field, siege and sea coast cannon, with caissons and other impliments [sic] ;  1,082,841 muskets and rifles for foot soldiers ;  282,389 carbines and pistols for mounted troops ;  1,295,600 cannon balls and shells ;  48,719,863 pounds of lead and lead bullets ;  1,435,046 cartridges for artillery ;  259,022,216 cartridges for small arms ;  347,276,470 percussion caps ;  2,925,369 friction primers ;  5,764,468 lbs gunpowder ;  010,676 [sic] sets of accourtments [sic] for men ;  94,679 sets of accourtments [sic] for cavalry horses ;  3,281 sets of artillery harness, each set for two horses.  What an exhibit !  and yet this is only a small item in the grand sum total of the operations of the War Department during the 12 months past.

The operations of the Navy Department exhibit an equally amazing result.  At the beginning of the war the number of effective vessels did not exceed 40 ;  while the number of vessels within the immediate reach of the Government did not exceed ten.  In December, 1862, the number of vessels had increased to 427 ;  while during the current year it has been increased (in ships completed and in course of construction) to 588—a number says the President, “believed to exceed that of any other power.”  The following is a more comprehensive summary of our naval force :

No. of
No. of
Iron-clads, coast service, 46 150 62,581
Iron-clads, Indland do., 29 152 20,784
Side-wheel steamers, 203 1,240 126,517
Screw steamers, 198 1,578 187,892
Sailing vessels,   112   1,323  90,256
     Total, 588 4,443 497,667

The operations of our vast Navy have been commensurate with its magnitude.  Three thousand miles of coast have been effectually blockaded ;  a fleet has been detailed in search of rebel pirates ;  the usual squadrons have been kept on distant seas, while over a thousand blockade runners have been captured.

No wonder the rebellion is tottering under the heavy blows we have dealt it.  No wonder foreign powers are becoming more “friendly” in their disposition towards us !

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