The spring campaign on the Potomac is about to open. The hopes of our army are buoyant, its spirit high, its courage undaunted, its condition admirable. Every man depends upon himself, has confidence in his officers, and knows that he will be sustained by his comrades. They have a General who has never sustained a defeat, and an enemy whom they have never met but to conquer. They are one and all, officers and men, impressed with the belief that the Yankees are about to make their final effort, and that if they fall they will no longer have anything more to fear from them. They are eager for the commencement of active operations, and impatient of the unavoidable delay.
On the other hand the Yankees will open the campaign with a much smaller comparative force than they have been accustomed to. With all their boasting, and all their lying, we are confident that they will not greatly outnumber Gen. Lee when the hour for action shall have arrived. They cannot add greatly to Grant's force without detracting greatly from the force of some other General, a plain proof that their resources are on the wane, if not already approaching the point of exhaustion. At what point soever of Gen. Lee's line—in front, in flank, or in rear—they may make a demonstration, they will most assuredly be met with forces very nearly equal to their own, and we do not believe it possible for a Yankee force however well commanded and appointed, to beat an equal force of Confederates, let them be appointed and commanded as illy as they may. The chances are therefore vastly in our favor, and there is but one circumstance which renders their chances as good as they were when the campaign of 1863 opened.
That circumstance is the possession of a General superior to any they have ever yet had. That Grant is a man of far more energy and ability than any that has yet commanded the army of the Potomac, cannot be denied. But, then, what sort of men have commanded it? The imbecile McDowell, the lying charlatan McClellan, the low, brutal, boasting poltroon Pope, the murdering coward Burnside, the drunken braggart Hooker, the timid, but gentlemanly Meade. That Grant is a much superior leader to all these, cannot be denied. And yet, it may be denied that he is a great General, since he has never done anything to prove that he is so. Let us see what he has done. We first hear of him at Belmont, where he was signally defeated and driven to his boats by Gen. Polk, and whence get dated a lying bulletin claiming the victory. He next appears before Fort Donelson, where, with eighty full regiments, an enormous fleet, and every advantage that a vast superiority in arms and equipments could give them, he contrived, after a desperate conflict of three days, in which the Confederates were uniformly victorious, to capture the place with 7,000 out of a garrison originally but 11,000 strong, having himself lost fully as many men as were in the fort.—A few weeks after, with forces not more than one-third as strong as his own, he was attacked by Sydney Johnston at Shiloh and routed so completely that, had not that great leader been killed, his whole army would have been destroyed. When reinforced by Buell, and while one-half the Confederate army was dispersed in search of plunder among the tents of the Yankees which they had captured, he attacked Beauregard, and was repulsed in every attempt. With 100,000 men, and the most powerful fleet that had ever been seen upon any river in the world, he captured Vicksburg, after a trial of six months, solely through the incompetence of the commander, who had but 27,000 men, and divided them in such a way as to present on the battle-field but a fourth of fifth of the enemy's force, and who persistently disobeyed every order given him by his superior—Gen. Johnston. At Missionary Ridge, he was enabled to fall on Gen. Bragg with an army three or four times as numerous as his own. Repulsed in the pursuit by General Cleburne, he never afterwards dared to make a movement in front, feeling himself as much overawed in the presence of Gen. Johnston as Anthony was in that of Cæsar.
Such is the man with whom Gen. Lee has to contend, and such his career. His performances bear no comparison whatever to those of Gen. Lee. He has hitherto succeeded by dint of brute force. He has always had vastly superior numbers when he has been victorious. The man who, with small numbers and weak resources, contrives to perform mighty deeds, is the great General. Such is not Grant, and such is General Lee. The latter has always fought against immense odds, and has always been victorious. Trust, the Yankees tried to claim a victory at Sharpsburg; but the very fact that they were unable to pursue, and that they made no demonstration for three months after, proves that the claim, was false. They claimed a mighty victory, too, at Gettysburg; yet it paralyzed them for nearly a year. Gen. Lee now, for the first time, fights with numbers somewhat on an equality. —Can there be any doubt about the result?—For our part, all we are afraid of is that our troops are too full of confidence.