Mr. Seward to Mr. Corwin.
Sir: Your despatches of July 11 (No. 30) and July 28 (No. 31) have been received.
The tide of military success which had been so strong, and had continued in our favor so long, was checked at Richmond, by what has practically proved a drawn battle.
The country for a time, unaccustomed to reverses, seemed at first to be confounded by their disappointment. Disputes about responsibilities for the failure, apprehensions, multifarious and passionate counsels, succeeded, encouraging the insurgents and their agents and sympathizers abroad. The period that has intervened since that event has been marked by few exciting or striking events. Guerilla bands have been emboldened, but have not effected any material change in the military position. The fall of the Mississippi has obliged the sea-going part of our fleet that was engaged at Vicksburg to fall down the river, and owing to the same cause the canal that had been made to divert the stream has not yet proved effective. The assault upon Vicksburg has, therefore, been temporarily suspended. A combined land and naval attack by the insurgents upon Baton Rouge has been successfully resisted. The casualties of the service insensibly reduced our armies so much that, after the battles before Richmond, we [Page 768]found ourselves obliged to let them remain comparatively inactive. The period of inactivity has, nevertheless, been well improved. The President, early in July, called for six hundred thousand troops. The country has responded with earnestness and alacrity. The new levies began to enter into the field a week ago. During that period about thirty thousand of them have joined the different armies, and the increase is now going on, and will continue, at the rate of five thousand or more daily. The army of the Potomac became divided in the battles before Richmond. The large body under the command of General Mc-Olellan has rested on the banks of the James river, unable to renew the attack without re-enforcements, while the small body under General Pope was not deemed competent to march southward, and it was even doubtful whether it would be strong enough to protect this capital if the insurgents should abandon Richmond. General Halleck, the new commander of all the forces, therefore, determined to withdraw General MeClellan’s army from the James river, and to combine it with Pope’s, on the line of the Rappahannock, and in front of Richmond. The operation was one of admitted delicacy and difficulty. It is not yet fully completed. The first part of it has been accomplished with consummate ability and entire success. The whole of General McClellan’s forces— 100,000 strong—have evacuated their position on the James river, and are now on their way to the new front on the Rappahannock. Whether the junction shall be successfully affected is the question which remains undecided, but which will be solved probably before this despatch will have left the department.
Our condition may be summed up in the few words, that we are reorganizing and preparing for a new campaign, which we believe will be successful, and which, we trust, will close the war, with the return of the authority of the federal Union.
Rumors of intrigues abroad for foreign intervention or mediation reach the government continually, but they do not at present produce any real uneasiness.
Since my last despatch to you no correspondence has passed between this government and any foreign state concerning Mexico, or her relations with France.
I do not recapitulate the reports of proceedings on that subject in Europe which are brought by the press, because they may not be authentic, and the President thinks that, whether they are so or not, they could not, in either case, furnish occasion for instructions for your guidance under existing circumstances. We see, with regret, that they do not in any way abate the embarrassments of Mexico, and we earnestly hope she may be successful in surmounting them.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Thomas Corwin, Esq., &c., &c., &c.,