The wonder excited by the raising of the vast army which saved the Union from destruction was even surpassed by the wonder excited by its prompt and peaceful dissolution. On the day that the task of disbandment was undertaken, the Army of the United States bore upon its rolls the names of one million five hundred and sixteen men (1,000,516). The killed, and those who had previously retired on account of wounds and sickness and from the expiration of shorter terms of service, aggregated, after making due allowance for reenlistments of the same persons, at least another million. The living among these had retired gradually during the war, and had resumed their old avocations, or, in the great demand for workmen created by the war itself, had found new employment. But with the close of hostilities many industries which had been created by the demands of war ceased, and thousands of men were thrown out of employment. The disbandment of the Volunteer Army would undoubtedly add hundreds of thousands to this number, and thus still further overstock and embarrass the labor market. The prospect was not encouraging, and many judicious men feared the result.
Happily all anticipations of evil proved groundless. By an instinct of self-support and self-adjustment, that great body of men who left the military service during the latter half of the year 1865 and early in the year 1866 reentered civil life with apparent contentment and even with certain advantages. Their experience as soldiers, so far from unfitting them for the duties and callings of an era of Peace, seem rather to have proved an admirable school, and to have given them habits of promptness and punctuality, order and neatness, which added largely to their efficiency in whatever field they were called to labor. After the Continental Army was dissolved, its members were found to be models of industry and intelligence in all the walks of life. The successful mechanics, the thrifty tradesmen, the well-to-do farmers in the old thirteen States were found, in great proportion, to have held a commission or carried a musket in the Army of the Revolution. They were, moreover, the strong pioneers who settled the first tier of States to the westward, and laid the solid foundation which assured progress and prosperity to their descendants. Their success as civil magistrates, as legislators, as executives was not less marked and meritorious than their illustrious service in war. The same cause brought the same result a century later in men of the same blood fighting with equal valor the same battle of constitutional liberty. The inspiration of a great cause does not fail to ennoble the humblest of those who do battle in its defense. Those who stood in the ranks of the Union Army have established this truth by the twenty years of honorable life through which they have passed since their patriotic service was crowned with victory.
The officers who led the Union Army throughout all the stages of the civil conflict were in the main young men. This feature has been a distinguishing mark in nearly all the wars in which the American people have taken part, and with a few notable exceptions has been the rule in the leading military struggles of the world. Alexander the Great died in his thirty-second year. Cæsar entered upon the conquest of Gaul at forty. Frederick the Great was the leading commander of Europe at thirty-three. Napoleon and Wellington, born the same year, fought their last battle at forty-six years of age. On the exceptional side Marlborough's greatest victories were won when he was nearly sixty (tho he had been brilliantly distinguished at twenty-two), and in our own day the most skillful campaign in Europe was under the direction of Von Moltke when he was in the seventieth year of his age. . . .
General Grant won his campaign of the Tennessee, and fought the battles of Henry, Donelson, and Shiloh when he was thirty-eight years of age. Sherman entered upon his onerous work in the southwest when he was forty-one, and accomplished the march to the sea when he was forty-four. Thomas began his splendid career in Kentucky when he was forty-three, and fought the critical and victorious battle of Nashville when he was forty-six. Sheridan was but thirty-three when he confirmed a reputation, already enviable, by his great campaign in 1864 in the Shenandoah Valley. Meade won the decisive battle of Gettysburg when he was forty-seven. McClellan was but thirty-five when he succeeded General Scott in command of the army. McDowell was forty-five when he fought the first battle of magnitude in the war. Buell was forty-two when he joined his forces with Grant's army on the second day's fight at Shiloh. Pope was scarcely over forty when be attained the highest credit for his success in the southwest. Hancock was forty-one when he approved himself one of the most brilliant commanders in the army by his superb bearing on the field of Spottsylvania. Hooker was forty-six when he assumed command of the Army of the Potomac.
Among the officers who volunteered from civil life the success of young men as commanders was not less marked than among the graduates of West Point. General Logan, to whom is conceded by common consent the leading reputation among volunteer officers, and who rose to the command of an army, went to the field at thirty-five. General Butler was forty-two when he was placed at the head of the Army of the Gulf, and began his striking career in Louisiana. General Banks was forty-four when with the rank of major-general he took command of the Department of Maryland. Alfred Terry, since distinguished in the regular service, achieved high rank as a volunteer at thirty-five. Garfield was a major-general at thirty-one with brilliant promise as a soldier when he left the field to enter Congress. Frank Blair at forty-one was a successful commander in the arduous campaign which ended with the fall of Vicksburg.
1 From Blaine's "Twenty Years in Congress." By permis sion of Mrs. Walter Damrosch and James G. Blaine, Jr. Copyright 1884.
WHAT THE WAR COST
Not only in life but in treasure the cost of the war was enormous. In addition to the large revenues of the Government which had been currently absorbed, the public debt at the close of the struggle was $2,808,549,437.55. The incidental losses were innumerable in kind, incalculable in amount. Mention is made here only of the actual expenditure of moneyestimated by the standard of gold. The outlay was indeed principally made in paper, but the faith of the United States was given for redemption in coina faith which has never been tarnished, and which in this instance has been signally vindicated by the steady determination of the people. Never, in the same space of time, has there been a national expenditure so great.
Other nations have made costly sacrifices in struggles affecting their existence or their master passions. In the memorable campaigns of the French in 1794, when the republic was putting forth its most gigantic energies, the expenses rose to 200,000,000 francs a month, or about $450,000,000 a year. For the three years of the Rebellion, after the first year, our War Department alone expended $603,314,411.82, $690,391,048.66, and $1,030,690,400, respectively. The French Directory broke down under its expenditures by its lavish issue of assignats and the French republic became bankrupt. Our Government was saved by its rigorous system of taxation imposed upon the people by themselves. Under Napoleon, in addition to the impositions on conquered countries, the budgets hardly exceeded in francs the charges of the United States for the Rebellion in dollars.
Thus in 1805 the French budget exhibited total expenditures of 666,155,139 francs, including 69,140,000 francs for interest on the debt. In the same year the Minister stated to the Chambers that income was derived from Italy of 30,000,000 francs, and from Germany and Holland 100,000,000, leaving 588,998,705 to be collected from France. In 1813 the French expenditures had risen to 953,658,772 francs, and the total receipts from French revenue were 780,959,847 francs. The French national debt has been measured since 1797 by the interest paid, fixt at that time at five per cent. From 1800 to 1814, the period of the Consulate and the Empire, this interest was increased by 23,091,635 francs, indicating an addition of twenty times that sum to the principal of the debt. The Government of the Restoration added in 1815, 101,260,635 francs to the annual interest. Thus the cost of the Napoleonic wars to France may be stated at about $487,000,000 added to the principal of the debt, or less than one-fifth of the increment of our national obligations on account of the rebellion.
The total expenditures of Great Britain during the French revolution and the career of Napoleon were £1,490,000,888, or nearly five times that sum in dollars. The largest expenditures in any single year were in 1815, £130,305,958, or in dollars, $631,976,894. After 1862 our expenditures were not so low as that in any year, and they were more than double that sum in the closing year of the war, when the great armies were mustered out of service and final payment was made to all.
The British expenditures in the war against the French during the period of the revolution were a little more than £490,000,000, and against Napoleon a little less than £1,000,000,000; or $4,850,000,000 in the aggregate, for twenty-three years. The total outlay was therefore larger than our payments on account of the Rebellion. But there was no period of ten years in her wars with the French in which Great Britain expended so much as the United States expended in four years. The loss of Great Britain by discounts in raising money or by the use of depreciated paper was greater than that incurred by the United States. A leading English authority says that of the vast burden up to 1816, the "artificial enhancements due to discounts in raising money were so great that for every £100 received into the treasury a national debt of £173 was created."
No other wars than those of England and France can be compared with ours in point of expenditure. For the war between France and Germany in 1870 the indemnity demanded by the conqueror was 5,000,000,000 francs, equivalent in American money to $930,000,000. This sum was much in excess of the outlay of Germany. The expenses of France on her own account in that contest were 1,873,238,000 francs, or $348,432,068, and this is only from one-half to one-third of the annual outlay of the United States during the Rebellion.
END OF VOL. VIII
1 From Blaine's "Twenty Years in Congress." By permission of Mrs. Walter Damrosch and James G. Blaine, Jr. Copyright 1884.