These, my son, were the attributes that gave wings to the man’s ambition and found him aspiring to one of the high places in the temple of fame. The nation gave him a thorough military education at West Point, and he afterwards learned the practical duties of a soldier in the Black Hawk war. On the return of peace, he resigned and sought distinction in political life. He had succeeded in reaching the House of Representatives when the war with Mexico broke out, and he resigned and again went to the field. And, notwithstanding what has been said to the contrary, he won great distinction in this war. Military men everywhere did him justice. The “Mississippi Rifles” will be remembered as long as the battle of Buena Vista.
At the close of the war he again relinquished the sword, and was sent to the United States Senate, where he was made chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. His highest ambition was to shine as a statesman. He afterwards served four years as Secretary of War, and then returned to the Senate, where the rebellion found him elevated to the chairmanship of the Committee of Military Affairs. His education, his services in the army, his position as Secretary of War, and in the Senate, enabled him to become thoroughly acquainted with our army, with its customs, its laws, its material, its wants, and, above all, the character of its officers. He was, perhaps, better acquainted with these things than any other man in the United States. Nor was he deficient in knowledge of the character of leading, public men at the North and West. What he had not studied well, however, was the character and the patriotism of the people of those sections of our country.
It was the ripe fruit of this knowledge, then, that Mr. Davis applied in each department of the rebel government; and it was this that made him of such incalculable value to the rebellion. We have seen and even admired the power with which he wielded the scanty resources of the South. And we have seen the wisdom which he displayed from the very first in the section of his generals. With rare exceptions, he put the right man in the right place. He knew the importance of placing soldiers in command, when soldiers’ duty was to be performed. It would have been fortunate for us if we had exercised similar wisdom. When the rebellion began, there was no man in the South to have taken the place of Mr. Davis. It is not too much to say that had he remained loyal to his country, and been elevated to the command of our armies when the war began, he would have quickly crushed out the rebellion. With his grasp of mind, and his iron will, he would have so wielded the great resources of the North and West, that the rebellion would have been crushed in a year from its birth. And this was the man our authorities at Washington supposed would not, or could not, attack the capital after it had been stripped of its proper garrison. Let the truth be told: Davis was not the man to let such a blunder go unnoticed. The Project Gutenberg Etext of Siege of Washington, D.C. by F. Colburn Adams ******This file should be named sgedc10.txt or sgedc10.zip******