|First Day at Gettysburg, from James Walker painting.|
The battle of Gettysburg.
We are without farther information from the great battle said to have been fought on Sunday than that which came Tuesday morning, and which we publish in the proper column. The report of the returned prisoner, who overheard the officers at Old Point say they had sustained a loss of 60,000 men, though otherwise of little value, is useful as confirmatory evidence. We have no means of testing the accuracy of the dispatch from Martinsburg. Correspondents — especially telegraphic correspondents — with the best intentions, are often led estray.
They are obliged, in the absence of official intelligence, to depend on the evidence of persons from the scene of action, who are often but imperfectly informed themselves, and sometimes on mere rumor. They therefore, in such cares, state their authority, and let the public judge of the value of their information. In the present instance, the very enormity of the loss in prisoners attributed to the enemy excites incredulity, although no man doubts that the reporter stated accurately the prevalent belief in Martinsburg at the time. We feel as well assured that Gen. Lee, if he has met the enemy in a pitched battle, has inflicted a terrible defeat upon them, as we do that we are living, breathing, sentient beings.
Whether the details be precisely such as the telegraph gives us is another matter. If Gen. Lee has, after a hard fought battle, taken 40,000 prisoners, he has gained one of the most complete victories on record. He has utterly destroyed the only obstacle that stood between him and Baltimore, and we can see no reason why he should not be in that city before to-morrow night. The force to defend it consists entirely of militia, many of them but ill affected, and they have within the city a deadly enemy, as numerous as themselves, panting for revenge and ready to rise on the first opportunity. In the panic which must follow such an astounding overthrow nothing can be easier than to march in and take possession.
We are confident that Gen Lee has struck some great blow from the strong belief generally entertained that he has all this time been acting upon a certainly. He would never have ventured upon a march, apparently so hazardous as that into Pennsylvania, had he not well calculated all the chances beforehand. What serves to convince us that a battle was fought and a victory gained on Sunday, is the account given in the telegram of the movement made by the corps of Gen. Hill. It corresponds with the accounts given in the Yankee newspapers, that he had been repulsed.--The truth seems to be that he made a retrograde movement pursuant to orders, in order to reduce the enemy to follow him. They did so, according to the telegram, when the wings of Gen. Lee's army closed upon and enveloped them. It was a repetition of the maneuver practiced by Hannibal at Cannae which resulted in the slaughter of 70,000 Romans and the capture of 14,000 out of an army of 86,000 Hannibal killed the enveloped Romans. Lee, according to this account, only took the Yankees prisoners.
If this telegram states the truth in its full extent, not only Baltimore, but Washington likewise must speedily fall. Baltimore once in our possession, Washington cannot possibly sustain itself. We shall then have redeemed Maryland and rendered her an efficient ally, instead of leaving her in the hands of the enemy. She can furnish as with 50,000 troops equal to any in the world, burning with hatred, and eager to avenge the countless wrongs and indignities which they have suffered at the hands of the Yankees. The war will then be permanently transferred to the enemy's territory, and in a few months we may confidently expect to see the Confederate banner waving in triumph over the city of Philadelphia. We already begin to see glimpses of peace, if this telegram prove only half true. But let us have no peace which we do not dictate ourselves.
The refusal of the Captain of the flag boat to let any Yankee papers go on shore is proof almost positive that they have sustained some great disaster.