The war is an abject and utter failure. What everyone thought would be a quick, decisive victory has turned into an embarrassing series of reversals. The enemy, -- a ragtag, badly-fed collection of hotheads and fanatics – has failed to be shocked and awed by the most magnificent military machine ever fielded. Their dogged resistance has shown us the futility of the idea that a nation of millions could ever be subjugated and administered, no matter what obscene price we are willing to pay in blood and money.
The President of the United States is a buffoon, an idiot, a man barely able to speak the English language. His vice president is a little-seen, widely despised enigma and his chief military advisor a wild-eyed warmonger. Only his Secretary of State offers any hope of redemption, for he at least is a reasonable, well-educated man, a man most thought would have made a far, far better choice for Chief Executive.
We must face the fact that we had no business forcing this unjust war on a people who simply want to be left alone. It has damaged our international relationships beyond any measure, and has proven to be illegal, immoral and nothing less than a monumental mistake that will take generations to rectify. We can never hope to subdue and remake an entire nation of millions. All we will do is alienate them further. So we must bring this war to an immediate end, and make a solemn promise to history that we will never launch another war of aggression and preemption again, so help us God.
This was the condensed opinion of the Copperhead press. The time was the summer of 1864.
Everyone thought the Rebels would be whipped at Bull Run, and that the Confederacy would collapse within a few days or hours of such a defeat. No one expected the common Southern man to fight so tenaciously, a man who owned no slaves and who in fact despised the rich fire-eaters who had taken them to war.
Lincoln was widely considered a bumpkin, a gorilla, an uncouth backwoods hick who by some miracle of political compromise had made it to the White House. Secretary of War Stanton had assumed near-dictatorial powers and was also roundly despised. Only Secretary of State William Seward, a well-spoken, intelligent Easterner and a former Presidential candidate, seemed fit to hold office.
After three interminable and unbelievably bloody years of conflict, many in the Northern press had long ago become convinced that there was no hope of winning the war, and far less of winning the peace that followed. After nearly forty months of battle and maneuver, after seeing endless hopes dashed in spectacular failure, after watching the magnificent Army of the Potomac again and again whipped and humiliated by a far smaller, under-fed, under-equipped force, the New York newspapers and many, many others were calling for an immediate end to this parade of failures.
It took them forty months and hundreds of thousands killed to reach that point. Today, many news outlets have reached a similar conclusion after ten days and less than fifty combat fatalities.
There's more, including a stirring presentation on the pivotal fight in the Civil War: Little Round Top. Read it all.