The Danger of the West.
It cannot be denied that a great peril is hanging over the West. The public attention has been so long and earnestly directed to the scene of strife on the banks of the Potomac, that the country has neglected to observe the dark and ominous clouds that are gathering nearer the sunset. It cannot much longer neglect these portents. There are disasters which may befall a nation more terrible than the loss of its capital. The capture of Washington would only protract the war — it is to be feared that the destruction of the army of the West would end it.
It would be well to look calmly, for a moment, at the situation. Fremont stands at St. Louis with a handful of men. Another handful is at Paducah, a squad at Cairo, scattered detachments sprinkled through Missouri, at Rolla, at Lexington, at Jefferson City, at Bird's Point — in all not more than enough to do police duty for Missouri, if Missourians were brave. In every fight we have had to whip three times our number. We have done it, and can do it; but we ought not to be required to do it.
On the other side are the swarming myriads from the Gulf to the Ohio. The populous States that the Mississippi drains have sent one man in four, of their fighting men, to this war. Their numbers are very large. Their munitions are indeed inferior to ours, but their provisions are plentiful and cost nothing but promises. They are officered well. Bishop Polk is a cautious and a dangerous man, an educated officer, who left the army because the Church offered a wider field for ambition. The foolish and vaunting Pillow is displaced, and Albert Sidney Johnston, the finest officer in the rebel army — a man who has all Beauregard's skill and none of his flippant vanity — is detailed by the sagacious cabal at Richmond to take command in chief. Everything indicates the overwhelming importance which the rebels attach to this department.
It looks as if our military managers were not equally alive to the situation. Fremont is left to struggle against these odds with little assistance and no kindly words of cheer. He is hampered in his policy and checked in the details of his movements, by considerations which may seem important to distant eyes, but which vanish in the light of the experience of border wars. Intestine disturbances, involving the necessity of diversions of needed troops, are continually delaying aggressive movements; and orders for regiments to move to the Potomac chill the hearts and weaken the hands of men who have already too much to do. And worse than all, while the heroic Pathfinder is straining every nerve for the public good, the clamers of turbulent politicians are allowed to weigh against his self-sacrificing efforts, and impertinent newsmongers, always eager to insult a man whom they believe to be in disfavor, send over the wires their insole it surmises as to the probabilities of his removal.
It ought to be enough for any honest man to consider that a life-time of honorable success is a sufficient argument against malicious insinuations of incompetency, and the noble pecuniary sacrifice involved in the neglect of the richest estate ever owned by a citizen, should silence forever the tongues of defeated and slanderous jobbers. It needs but a walk through St. Louis, once turbulent and seditious, now quiet and loyal, to convince any man but those who will not be convinced, that an exception has been made to the usual mistakes of history, and that the right man is in the right place.
At least, the people think so, and the instinctive utterance of the people's thought has always in this land, been heard with respect.
Through the West, the name of Fremont is magical. The yeomanry would rather fight under him than any one of their neighbors. — On the prairies, his name stands as a symbol of power and success. In Missouri he is spoken of, if less fondly, with more respect, more confidence, more earnest adherence. In that treason-haunted State, the people say, "If Fremont goes, we are ruined."
We believe that the honest heart of the people is with Fremont. We believe that he, better than any other General, can breast the storm of Northward rolling rebellion. We believe that he can lead the Western men to victory. We believe that ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the People's President, whom, more than any one living, we love and honor and trust in, will give to Fremont's defamers the noble answer he gave to the slanderers of Cameron, "You had better be fighting your enemies than your friends."