Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
Gold and Grant have more than a mere alliterative affinity. There is a substantial, mutual relation between them, and the one is the complement of the other. When the General crossed the Rapid Ann at the head of one hundred and thirty thousand men, bound to march straight over Lee’s army into Richmond, Gold in Wall Street felt easier for the moment, and let itself go at one hundred and seventy PER CENT. It even remained comparatively indifferent to the two furious onsets made upon our lines in the Wilderness, though they were repulsed with such slaughter and havoc. Then commenced the General’s strategy by the left flank; and at once the precious metal showed signs of wavering and shrinking. After the horrible (illegible) of Spotsylvania Court House, the pulse of the Yankee nation rose full six per cent. Again came the inevitable movement by the left, to Massaronax and to Guinea’s station; followed by General Lee’s rapid march to Hanover junction; and for a few days the specie in Wall Street, susceptible as mercury in a barometer, sympathizing with its General’s apparently direct advance upon Richmond, and his stern announcement that he would fight it out ON THAT LINE, if it took all summer, held itself again a little easier—when, behold! just as the two armies were fronting one another at Hanover junction, came once more the inevitable predestined slipping aside by the right flank, and the golden eagles felt it to their very spinal marrow. The Wall street pulse rose to a hundred and eighty-five—ninety, ninety-two—then, after the battle of Cold Harbour, and another shift to the right, to a hundred and ninety-five—seven, eight, NINE. On the 10th gold was sold for one hundred and ninety-nine, and when it becomes known in that country that the whole army is once more on its travels, not only by the left flank, but this time away from Richmond, it would be hazardous to conjecture how many greenbacks a golden dollar will buy.
So, since the crossing of the Rapid Ann, in that resistless, unspeakable, supreme effort, TOTO CORPORE REGNI, for capture of the “rebel “capital,” the credit of the Federal Government has declined faster and farther than ever before, and Gold, withn thirty days, went up thirty per cent.—save one. Singular effect of a magnificent military combination for taking possession of all the lands and wealth of the Confederate States to pay the debt of that Government. Can it be that, somehow, the people in Wall street are doubtful about the ultimate redemption of Federal securities by Confederate plantations? Oh, ye of little faith!
We are informed, indeed, by the enemy’s press, and they tell it with satisfaction, that, on the tenth, an effort was made—doubtless by “rebel sympathizers”—to carry gold up to the round two hundred; but that the traitorous attempt was defeated, and, in fact, before the day closed, a sale was made at one hundred ninety-eight. It would appear that those strange Yankees attach a kind of mystic significance (for they are in all things too superstitious) to this fatal number 200. There is an awful feeling on the street, that once the complete round number of two for one is reached, the advance will be no longer by creeping steps, but by leaps and bounds, or even a perpendicular fall, IN VACUO—that up to that point there is a certain capacity for management and manipulation; but that thenceforward it is a blind rush—the horses get the bit between their teeth, and no charioteer of finance, not JEHU CHASE, nor PHAETON MEMMINGER himself, can longer hold them in hand: there is a downhill stretch before them, and the Devil behind.
Hitherto we have been able, holding our fingers delicately on the pulse of Wall street, to note the gradual but certain collapse of the system as the tremendous, decisive and final invasion swept on its way, by the left flank.—But at our last observation of the pulse, namely, on the 10th, the patient had not been yet tried by the latest sickening news—ANOTHER nocturnal absconding from before LEE’S front; farther off from Richmond this time, but unavoidably so, for the GRANT strategy must be by the left flank: when this piece of news is fully known, and when military critics appreciate the progress made by GRANT in his wonderful siege of Richmond—namely, a progress (after one month’s fighting and strategy over the left), to the very point arrived at by MCCLELLAN’S beaten remnant. When he had abandoned the enterprize altogether, it is probable that the gold quotations will shiver, flutter and start off at a gallop.
Little GRANT cares for the nervous sensibilities of Wall street. He started with a huge army to have his siege out, and have it out he will, by the left flank. Does any simple reader imagine that his favourite and only possible movement has now at last reached its term? By no means. He will probably advance again straight against LEE’S army; and being repulsed again will slip off over the James river—advance against our intrenchments on the Southside—get beaten as usual, sliding each time farther and farther left, and then will open to the General perhaps the most tempting and magnificent campaign which a Yankee host has yet entered upon. It will then turn out that his gigantic campaign is only now about to begin. Then will be developed, before the eyes of two astonished nations, what his plan has been in this most dexterious or rather sinistrous strategy from the beginning. By moving still to his left—for he scorns to abandon a principle—he can invade all the cities of the seaboard, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah; keeping always near his sea and river base; take them all in the rear; then overwhelm JOHNSTON, and, united with SHERMAN, subjugate Georgia and South Carolina; conquer in fact the whole South except Richmond, in such sort that the body being dead and cut to pieces, the head can hardly be said to remain alive, and will drop off the corpse by itself. This was the siege he meant from the first; and we shall all at last acknowledge that the campaign of ’64 was the most catawampously stupendous that ever “transpired” in our midst. One uses Yankee slang naturally in describing an achievement so gloriously Yankee, and so suitable to the genius of GRANT. It is in vain that difficulties may be suggested—mighty swamps to cross, and the demons of fever and dysentery to contend with, besides a Confederate army still attending his motions and offering inconvenient battle. All trifles these. What are the swamps of Virginia and Carolina to those wide morasses of the Mississippi, out of which our little Dismal would never be missed? To the army that has braved the swamp fevers of the Great West, our small fever and ague of the coast will not be a “circumstance;” and as for a Confederate army continually sliding to the left, and “away we go!” We now see, therefore—our eyes having gradually opened to the grandeur of the dazzling vision—that GENERAL GRANT is at last going to besiege Richmond by way of the Congaree and Wateree, the Savannah and Ocmulgee; and that he regards Charleston and Savannah as outworks to the defenses of this city. There is an air of imposing vastness about this style of siege which will especially endear it to the Yankee heart. It is very true, Gold will continue to go upward just as GRANT goes leftward; but to show the world such a campaign is worth a few thousand millions or so. Hang the expense!
“Brother TOBY, replied my father, you care not what money you dissipate and throw away, provided, continued he, ‘tis but upon a “SIEGE.”—“Have I not one hundred and twenty pounds a year besides my “half pay?” cried my uncle TOBY.—“What is that—replied my father hastily—to ten pounds for a pair of “jack boots?—twelve guineas for your PONTOONS?—half as much for your Dutch drawbridge?—to say “nothing of the train of little brass artillery that you bespoke last week for the siege of MESSINA: “believe me, dear brother TOBY, continued by father, taking him kindly by the hand, these military “operations of yours are above your strength: you mean well, brother—but they carry you into greater “expenses than you were aware of:—and take my word, dear TOBY, they will, in the end, quite ruin your “fortune, and make a beggar of you.”—“What signifies it if they do, brother, replied my uncle Toby, so “LONG AS WE KNOW ‘TIS FOR THE GOOD OF THE NATION?’———–1
- No title. Richmond Examiner. June 15, 1864, p. 3 col. 1-2 ↩