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the variety of means that has been used in this war. In the Creek, and also in the Cherokee instance, there were excellent reasons for resorting to the militia. They were at hand, could easily be subsisted, and presented the only expedient where such an amount of force was required. The regular army could not furnish that force, nor even a respectable proportion of it. But in Florida the case was different. This peninsula was remote from the settlements of contiguous States; was peculiarly difficult of access; and besides, all kinds of subsistence, whether for man or beast, were there to be had only by a resort to distant portions of the country, Florida was, therefore, the place for the regular army, and the regular army only, excepting, perhaps, volunteers from the peninsula itself, many of whom had been driven from their homes, and were destitute, and most of whom had an intimate knowledge of the territory, and could be employed usefully to the country and beneficially to themselves.
Had the war been confined to these means, that is, to the regular army and the local militia, the sum of its cost would have scarcely been felt by the treasury, as there would have been little addition to the ordinary demand for military purposes.
It is true, the numbers accumulated in the Territory would have been far less, but it is altogether probable that the amount of achievement would not have been less. This was not expected, because it was thought that success would be in proportion to numbers ; but such was not the result, nor was there just ground for expecting it. These numbers were generally poured in without due regard to the subsistence they might meet at the scene of operations. Such was the case with the first band of gallant volunteers, amounting to a thousand or more, which precipitated itself into Florida from the Mississippi, at an imminent risk of being starved itself, and starving those whom it came to succour.
War cannot generally be carried on in a hurry. If the personnel outstrip the matériel, there is not only no gain, but almost inevitably a severe loss. When it was found that the amount of troops sent into Florida at the outset had been insufficient, as it undoubtedly was, the evil was not to be remedied by running into the other extreme. The regular force there was very soon increased to a respectable amount, and with that, in the main, all operations should have been carried on. Such a body of troops, it is now evident, would not have concluded the war according to the impatient wishes of the government. Neither did all those masses of militia or volunteers, which at different times were sent into Florida, effect the object. The war, without these extraneous aids, would probably have been about where it is now, at least no further from its beginning, and as near to its end. But the expense would have been immeasurably different. The regular army would have cost no more in Florida than anywhere else. It is paid, fed, and clothed, wherever it is. În these respects there would have been no augmentation on account of the “ Florida war.”
But Congress, in an evil hour, authorized the President to call out volunteers to an amount not to exceed ten thousand. The maximum was probably in the field, in different quarters, even before the public at large knew that the law had passed. So far as portions of this force were applied to the Creek or the Cherokee war, as we have before remarked, the service was beneficial. Here we should say the benefit stopped. From the document before us, we see that volunteers gallantly rushed into Florida from the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, New York, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Missouri, and South Carolina.
The report of the adjutantgeneral of the army, which forms a part of the document, states that more than fourteen thousand of these citizen soldiers left their homes, between the years 1836 and 1840, but mostly in the years 1836, 1837, and 1838, and subjected themselves to all the perils and privations of the Florida war, a very few of them for a term of twelve, more of them for a term of three, and about one half of them for a term of six months. They were all in the field long enough to convince them that a soldier's life in Florida had little of “the ponp and circumstance of glorious war"; that their sufferings, in such a contest, redounded little to their own fame, or the benefit of their country ; that, however such campaigns might begin in hope, they were sure to end in disappointment. It is no derogation from the spirit and patriotism of these thousands of citizens, who thus, for a season, took to the tented field with a promptness and ardor that deserved better success, to entertain a belief that their services in the Florida war scarcely advanced it one step towards a termination. The inference from such a belief is, of course, that all the enormous expense which has attended these services, has been a mere waste of public money, which could have been saved, and should have been saved, to the nation.
There is a regular system of supply for the regular army ; and its due wants, wherever it may be, are met with provident care.
The same system is fitted to extend itself to militia whenever called into service, provided it come out according to such calls. But in this war, most of the movements have been so extemporaneous, that no provision could be beforehand with them. In all such cases, the economy and efficiency of such a system are exerted in vain, or rather all exertions are foreclosed. For instance, more than a thousand mounted volunteers collected in Georgia early in 1838, and came into Florida. The first information the General in command there had of this movement was communicated by a newspaper paragraph, and before scarcely a hurried step could be taken to meet the wants of such a column in a region where no dépôts were provided, and where there were few means of obtaining supplies from other parts, it was upon the ground of action. Under such circumstances, the utmost measure of courage and discipline, if it were there, could not have averted the necessity of an early retrograde movement, with little chance of leaving any services behind, as an equivalent for the enormous expense of such a sudden and unlooked for irruption.
The southern portions of Georgia, and the northwestern portions of Florida, have often been led, by unexpected outbreaks of the enemy, to fly to the field. These parties were not always proportioned to the degree of danger, and may have frequently remained in arms after that danger had ceased. But, under such circumstances, it would be difficult to calculate the amount of the necessity, or the quantity of force required to repel, or guard against it, or the time proper to be under arıns. Where a scattered community feels itself thus endangered, or is thus assailed, by a foe who masks his designs as well as his means of fulfilling them, strict limits cannot be set to the methods adopted for protection. But such latitude does not apply to other instances connected with the volunteers, who have shared in the Florida war. In most other instances they came out by authority, and the cost could well have been counted. It was with perfect deliberation, that more than eight hundred men were brought from Louisiana for only three months' service; a term, one third
of which, perhaps more, must necessarily have been consumed in the movement to and from the scene of action. It were mere folly to expect any beneficial service from volunteers, whatever may have been their character, in two short months. More than two thousand men came from South Carolina, also, for a similar brief term of service. The march was sufficiently long to make it little more than a movement to and fro. Their gallantry was lost upon the
Not so the expense, which was the same, as to their coming and going, as if they had remained years on the ground. About five hundred volunteers came down from Missouri for six months' service. This was a remote point, and the time allowed for action in the field was diminished in proportion. Not so the expense, which was augmented in proportion. Over two thousand came from Tennessee, all mounted. They were for six months ; but, as the march was long, and much entertainment for both man and horse was to be provided on the spur of the moment, a large outlay, of course, preceded their entry on the scene of action. Nor did they return, after their short campaign, without a renewal of the same expense.
Although no details are given of the expenditures connected with the movements, to and fro, of these various ephemeral corps of volunteers, in the document under review, - the Third Auditor, from whose office they would come, being unable to furnish any report, - yet it is easy for the most unreflecting to perceive, ihat the case exhibits a vast amount of cost, for which there was hardly an opportunity, however eagerly it may have been sought, of making any return in services against the enemy. The more than fourteen thousand citizen-soldiers, who, in the course of two or three years, came into Florida, in most instances necessarily spent something like a third, or half, of their terin in marches, or movements only remotely bearing upon hostile operations. And these preliminary and subsequent marches and movements were, for the most part, by far the most expensive portions of the service of these troops. It would not be difficult, with only a tithe of the labor which the document before us cost the various departments, to show what proportion of the millions in question has been exhausted on these mere externals of the war.
Much has been said on the subject of expensive transportation connected with this war. It has inevitably been more than usually expensive in this respect. Florida had, and has, little or nothing within itself to promote the operations of war. Every thing has to be brought from a distance. Land transportation is provided with comparative economy for the setiled operations of the interior. In this respect there has been no censure, as there has been no room for it. But, on the water, there is far greater difficulty, and the want of passable avenues into Florida has thrown nearly all kinds of transportation upon this element. To provide for this extensive want, resort was, of course, had to the steamboats of the neighbouring States. These were numerous on both sides of the peninsula, but were, of course, all engaged in local and civil matters, and could not be induced to withdraw from such occupations, — occupations, for which they had been constructed, with which they were familiar, and which involved only ordinary risks, — to engage in distant, untried, and positively hazardous employments, without a compensation proportioned to the change of circumstances.
In a late session of Congress, a member, in the course of his speech, cited a long list of steamboats engaged in the Florida service, with the monthly compensation contracted to be paid to each. None of these instances exhibited any thing extraordinary. The compensation was pretty uniform, and, no doubt, had been brought down to a fair standard by the demand and supply of the market. These steamboats were, as we have before remarked, exposed to hazards of various kinds, and also to severe wear and tear. There was, therefore, a reason for demanding an unusual compensation. But, taking all the instances here cited, and ascertaining the aggregate amount paid under them, we should account for but a small proportion of the “millions
so often voted for this war. There were a few conspicuous cases, on the Gulf side, of unprincipled advantage taken of the extreme necessities of government, where steamboat transportation was indispensable to immediate operations, and these cases have struck the public with wonder and disgust. But such occasional exhibitions of inordinate cupidity, though they may have filled, to overflowing, the pockets of a few individuals, drew out of the treasury only an inconsiderable fraction of these “ millions.” They served to point a moral and adorn a speech, but formed only a small item in this vast account of extravagance.