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(title page) The Rival Administrations: Richmond and Washington in December, 1863.
(half-title page) The Rival Administrations.
by E. A. POLLARD,
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Owing to the extreme scarcity of paper and printing facilities in the Confederacy, the author of "The First and Second Years of the War" has arranged for the printing of his Third Volume in England, and is uncertain of the time of its appearance in the South. The following pages constitute a single chapter of the unpublished manuscript of this volume. These pages, thus disconnected, are not intended to advertise a forthcoming work, or to be violently imposed upon the public attention; but the author has supposed that they contained certain grave considerations, which have a present and immediate interest for the Southern public, apart from their general relations to the history of the war.
RICHMOND, January, 1864.
"Peccata nocentium nota esse oportet et expedit."--JUSTINIAN.
At the meeting of the Confederate Congress, in December, 1863, President Davis said: "We now know that the only
"reliable hope for peace is in the vigour of our resistance,
"while-the cessation of their" [the enemy's] "hostility is only
"to be expected from the pressure of their necessities." The Confederate Administration had at last arrived at the correct comprehension of the war. But it had reached this conclusion only after a period of nearly three years of ignorance, short-sighted conceit and preversity.
The careful and candid reader of the pages of two volumes of the history of the war, by this writer, will bear him witness that at no time has he reflected upon the patriotism or the public integrity of President Davis. The accusation, which has run through these volumes, is simply this: want of capacity in the administration of public affairs.
It is not possible that any historian of this war can overlook certain admirable qualities of the President of the Confederacy: his literary abilities, his spruce English, his ascetic morals, the purity of his private life, and the extraordinary facility of his manners. But he was not a statesman; he had no administrative capacities; he lacked that indispensable and practical element of success in all political administrations--knowledge of the true value of men; and he was--probably, unconsciously through his vanity--accessible to favourites. In the old government, Mr. Davis had never been accounted as a statesman, but was quite as obtrusive as most of the public men of that day. He it was, of Southern politicians, who declared in a public letter, in 1858, that the "Kansas Conference bill"
was "the triumph of all for which we contended." He had failed to see the origin and occasion of the revolution which he assumed to conduct.
His choice of favourites in the field, had been as unapt as his selection of political advisers in the Cabinet.* * The obstinate adhesion of President Davis to his favourites was forcibly illustrated in the case of Pemberton. The criticism of the public had no charity for this commander, and his recent campaign culminating in the surrender of Vicksburg, was denounced by the intelligent as a series of blunders, and by others less just and more passionate as the device of treason. It was argued that he had exposed Bowen with only four thousand men at Grand Gulf--a position impregnable to the enemy if it had been defended by sufficient numbers. It was said that on the more unfortunate day of the Big Black he had denied the importunate entreaties of Bowen for reinforcements, who dispatched seven or eight couriers for them in the course of the unequal battle. It was stated that he declined to provision Vicksburg in prospect of a siege, and that when one of the Confederate Senators from Mississippi pointed out to him vast supplies in certain counties of the State accessible to his garrison, he dismissed the advice with a haughtiness that almost amounted to personal insult. As proof of the abundance of the country around Vicksburg, we have Grant's official reports of his Mississippi campaign, in which he states that with a view of rapid movement and surprise, having calculated that twenty days would place him before Vicksburg, he permitted his troops to take only four days' provisions, trusting to the enemy for the other sixteen days' supply, and, in fact, supplied his army (50,000 men) from the country lying about the line of his march. The statement that the garrison of Vicksburg was surrendered on account of an inexorable distress, in which the soldiers had to feed on mules, with the occasional luxury of rats, is either to be taken as a designing falsehood, or as the crudities of that foolish newspaper romance so common in the war. In neither case does it merit reputation. A citizen of Vicksburg declares that the only foundation for the rat story is that a pie spiced with this vermin was served up in some of the officers' messes as a practical joke, and that for days after the surrender he himself had dined on excellent bacon from Pemberton's stores. Whatever may have been the real merits of the many accusations of which Pemberton was the subject, these at least indicated that he did not command the confidence of his troops or of any considerable portion of the public; and this deficiency alone should have suggested to the President the prudence of a change of commanders and dissuaded him from his obstinate preference of a favourite. But it had none of this effect. The Legislature of Mississippi solicited the removal of Pemberton. Private delegations from Congress entreated the President to forego his personal prejudices and defer to the public wish. But Mr. Davis had that conceit of opinion which opposition readily confirms; and the effect of these remonstrances was only to increase his obstinacy and intensify his fondness for his favourite. To some of them he replied that Pemberton was "a great military genius"-- not appreciated by the public, and destined on proper occasion to astonish it. Indeed, the President went further than mere opposition to the public sentiment. He defied and almost insulted it; for after the disaster of Vicksburg, Pemberton, with the public reproaches clinging to him, and public sentiment clamoring in vain for an inquiry into his conduct, was ostentatiously entertained as the President's guest in Richmond, and given the distinction of one of his suite in the subsequent official visit of the President to our armies in the West! It was said by Mr. Foote, in public session of Congress, that when the President, with a peculiar hardihood, essayed to ride down the lines of our troops, with Pemberton at his side, angry exclamations assailed them, and passed from lip to lip of the soldiers.
This President who depreciated Price as a militiaman, and held (or probably affected) a light opinion of Beauregard, was convinced that Pemberton was a genius who should be raised by a single stroke of patronage from the obscurity of a major to the position of a Lieutenant General; recognized Heth as a young Napoleon; selected Lovell as the natural guardian of the Mississippi; declared that Holmes, who had let the enemy slip out of his fingers at Richmond, was the appointed deliverer of Missouri and Arkansas, and competent to take charge of the destinies of an empire; and prophesied with peculiar emphasis of mystery, but
* The obstinate adhesion of President Davis to his favourites was forcibly illustrated in the case of Pemberton. The criticism of the public had no charity for this commander, and his recent campaign culminating in the surrender of Vicksburg, was denounced by the intelligent as a series of blunders, and by others less just and more passionate as the device of treason. It was argued that he had exposed Bowen with only four thousand men at Grand Gulf--a position impregnable to the enemy if it had been defended by sufficient numbers. It was said that on the more unfortunate day of the Big Black he had denied the importunate entreaties of Bowen for reinforcements, who dispatched seven or eight couriers for them in the course of the unequal battle. It was stated that he declined to provision Vicksburg in prospect of a siege, and that when one of the Confederate Senators from Mississippi pointed out to him vast supplies in certain counties of the State accessible to his garrison, he dismissed the advice with a haughtiness that almost amounted to personal insult.
As proof of the abundance of the country around Vicksburg, we have Grant's official reports of his Mississippi campaign, in which he states that with a view of rapid movement and surprise, having calculated that twenty days would place him before Vicksburg, he permitted his troops to take only four days' provisions, trusting to the enemy for the other sixteen days' supply, and, in fact, supplied his army (50,000 men) from the country lying about the line of his march.
The statement that the garrison of Vicksburg was surrendered on account of an inexorable distress, in which the soldiers had to feed on mules, with the occasional luxury of rats, is either to be taken as a designing falsehood, or as the crudities of that foolish newspaper romance so common in the war. In neither case does it merit reputation. A citizen of Vicksburg declares that the only foundation for the rat story is that a pie spiced with this vermin was served up in some of the officers' messes as a practical joke, and that for days after the surrender he himself had dined on excellent bacon from Pemberton's stores.
Whatever may have been the real merits of the many accusations of which Pemberton was the subject, these at least indicated that he did not command the confidence of his troops or of any considerable portion of the public; and this deficiency alone should have suggested to the President the prudence of a change of commanders and dissuaded him from his obstinate preference of a favourite. But it had none of this effect. The Legislature of Mississippi solicited the removal of Pemberton. Private delegations from Congress entreated the President to forego his personal prejudices and defer to the public wish. But Mr. Davis had that conceit of opinion which opposition readily confirms; and the effect of these remonstrances was only to increase his obstinacy and intensify his fondness for his favourite. To some of them he replied that Pemberton was "a great military genius"-- not appreciated by the public, and destined on proper occasion to astonish it. Indeed, the President went further than mere opposition to the public sentiment. He defied and almost insulted it; for after the disaster of Vicksburg, Pemberton, with the public reproaches clinging to him, and public sentiment clamoring in vain for an inquiry into his conduct, was ostentatiously entertained as the President's guest in Richmond, and given the distinction of one of his suite in the subsequent official visit of the President to our armies in the West! It was said by Mr. Foote, in public session of Congress, that when the President, with a peculiar hardihood, essayed to ride down the lines of our troops, with Pemberton at his side, angry exclamations assailed them, and passed from lip to lip of the soldiers.
a few weeks before the session of Congress, in a public speech in a Southern city, that Bragg by that time would be in the heart of Tennessee, and on the pinnacles of victory!
The civil administration of Mr. Davis had fallen to a low ebb. There are certain minds which cannot see how want of capacity in our government, official shiftlessness and the mismanagement of public affairs yet consist with the undeniable facts of the successes of our arms, and the great achievements of the Confederacy. But it is possible that these two conditions may consist--that, in a revolution, the valour and determination of a people may make considerable amends for the faults of its governors. If the history of this war has proved one proposition clearly it is this: that in all its subjects of congratulation, the "statesmanship" of Richmond has little part or lot. Let those who deny the justice of this historical judgement, which refuses to attribute to the official authorities of this government such success as we have had in this war say, what they have contributed to it.
The evidences of the "statesmanship" of Richmond, were not to be found in our foreign relations: these were absurdities. They were not to be found in our provisions for the war: these were make-shifts from month to month. They were not to be found in our financial calculations: these had proved the most ridiculous failures in the monetary annals of the world. We owe this melancholy confession to history, that we do not know of any real and substantial particulars in which the administration of Mr. Davis has contributed to this war. The reverse of the proposition need not be repeated here.
It is mortifying, indeed, to look back upon the currents of our history, to observe the blindness and littleness of mind, the conceit, the preversity, the short-sighted management, on all which we have drifted into this present vastness of war and depths of distress. In Montgomery at the period of the provisional inauguration of the Confederacy, any one who had the hardihood to insist upon the probability of a war, became a butt of raillery or the object of suspicion. The war once begun, the next idea in the minds of the Confederate leaders was, that it was to be dispatched in a few months by mere make-shifts of armies and money, and with the scant supply of munitions already on hand. Months intervened between Lincoln's declaration of war and the actual establishment of the blockade. But no use was made of this golden opportunity, and our importations of army supplies from Europe during all these months, actually may be counted in a few thousand stand of small arms. Secretary Mallory laughed off contractors in New Orleans, who offered to sell to the government a large amount of navy supplies. Judah P. Benjamin, at the head of the War Department, wrote to a friend in the first winter of the war, that within sixty days the country would be at peace. Later still, in the winter of 1862, President Davis, in a speech before the Legislature of Mississippi, had pronounced the solemn opinion that the war would soon come to an end. Yet we find the same eminent personage now declaring to the Congress of 1863, his belief in an indefinite prolongation of the war, and his despair of his many brilliant former prospects of peace, through instrumentalities other than that of our arms.
Able and candid journals of the North, have repeatedly confessed that they were puzzled by the extraordinary want of foresight and judgment displayed by the Confederate leaders, in their calculation at different periods of the war of the course likely to be pursued by Europe and the North. These errours might have been expected from men of little education, to whom self-interest in its lowest sense was the key to all political problems, but by no means from persons who had studied politics in books. "The notion," said the New York Times, "that the
"North, being a commercial community, devoted to the pursuit
"of gain, was, for that reason, sure not to fight, was rather the
"conclusion of a backwoodsman than of a student. The lesson
"of history is that commercial communities are amongst the
"most pugnacious and ambitious and most obstinate of belligerents:
"witness Carthage, Venice, Genoa, Holland and England."
The utter failure of the calculations of the Confederate Administration, regarding France and England, had exhibited a hasty and passionate reasoning, of which Mr. Davis and his associates might well be ashamed. The idea is ludicrous now that at the very beginning of the American revolution, France and England, with their centuries of vast and varied experience, in peace and war, would fling themselves into a convulsion which their great politicians easily saw was the most tremendous one of modern times. Yet this idea was entertained by President Davis; and as proof of it, the Confederate commissioners were instructed to apply to Earl Russell for recognition in England after the first battle of Manassas!
At the commencement of the war, cotton was pronounced "King;" and the absurd and puerile idea was put forward by the politicians of the Davis school, that the great and illustrious power of England would submit to the ineffable humiliation of acknowledging its dependency on the infant Confederacy of the South, and the subserviency of its empire, its political interests and its pride to a single article of trade that was grown in America! And what indeed is the sum of advantages which the Confederacy drew from the royal resources of cotton? It is true that these resources could not compel the political interests
and pride of England. But, properly used, they might have accomplished much for the interests of the Confederacy. In point of fact they accomplished nothing. For one year after the war commenced, the blockade was so slight that the whole of the cotton might have been shipped to Europe, and there sold at two shillings sterling a pound, giving the government, purchasing at twenty cents, a clear profit of six hundred millions of dollars! We may even suppose one-fifth of this captured by the enemy, and we would still have had a balance in our favour which would have enabled us to have drained every bank in Europe of its specie! Or if we had drawn for this sum as we needed it, our Treasury notes would have been equal to gold, and confidence in our currency would have been unshaken and universal.
The Confederacy had thus the element at ready hand for the structure of one of the most successful schemes of finance in the world. But the government was too grossly ignorant to see it. The purchase of the cotton to the government was decried by Mr. Memminger, as a scheme of "soup-house legislation;" and the new government was started without a basis of credit; without a system of revenue; on the monstrous delusion that money might be manufactured at will out of paper, and that a naked "promise to pay," was all sufficient for the wants of the war!
It is to be frankly admitted that the South commenced the war with financial advantages which the North did not have--that is, without reference to commercial incidents of the blockade, but with respect to the sustention of its credit at home. The South had the cotton and the tobacco. It had the unbounded sympathies of its people. It had larger taxable values per capita than any other country in the world. It is not possible that with these advantages it could have wrecked its credit with its own people, unless through a great want of capacity in the administration of the government. It is not possible, that with these advantages, its currency should have declined with its own people, ten times faster than that of the North with its people, unless through a gross mismanagement of public affairs. These are logical conclusions which are not to be disputed.
At the organization of the permanent government of the Confederacy, in February 1862, President Davis had made the most extravagant congratulations to the country, on our financial condition in comparison with that of the North. In less than eighteen months thereafter, when gold was quoted in New York at twenty-five per cent premium, it was selling in Richmond at nine hundred per cent premium; and by the time that the Confederate Congress met, in December 1863, gold in Richmond was worth about two thousand per cent premium, and was publicly sold, one for twenty in Confederate notes! Such had been the results of the financial wisdom of the Confederacy. It had been dictated by the President, who advised Congress (as late as August 1862) to authorize illimitable issues of Treasury notes, without fear of their depreciation, and aggravated, no doubt, by the ignorance of his Secretary, who invented the legerdemain of "funding," that had given the last stab to the currency, and who opened the doors of the treasury to brokers, blockade-runners and the vast tribes of those who lived on the depreciation of the public credit.*
* The experiments of Mr. Memminger on the currency was the signal of multiplied and rapid depreciation. While the eccentric and pious Secretary was figuring out impossible schemes of making money, or ransacking the book-stores for works on religious controversy, unprincipled brokers in the Confederacy were undermining the currency with a zeal for the destruction of their country not less than that of the Yankees. The assertion admits of some qualification. Sweeping remarks in history are generally unjust. Among those engaged in the business of banking and exchange in the South, there were undoubtedly some enlightened and public-spirited men who had been seduced by the example or constrained by the competition of meaner and more avaricious men of the same profession, to array themselves against the currency, and to commit offences from which they would have shrunk in horrour, had they not been disguised by the casuistry of commerce and gain.
It was generally thought in the South reprehensible to refuse the national currency in the payment of debts. Yet the broker, who demanded eighteen or twenty dollars in this currency for one in gold, really was guilty of so many times refusing the Confederate money. It was accounted shocking for citizens in the South to speculate in soldiers' clothing and bread. Yet the broker, who demanded twenty prices for gold, the representative of all values, speculated alike in every necessary in the country. Nor was this the greatest of their offences. With unsurpassed shamelessness brokers in the Confederacy exposed the currency of the North for sale and demanded for it ten hundred per cent. premium over that of the Confederacy! This act of benefit to the Yankees was openly allowed by the government. A bill had been introduced in Congress to prohibit this traffic and to extirpate this infamous anomaly in our history; but it failed of enactment, and its failure can only be attributed to the grossest stupidity, or to sinister influences of the most dishonourable kind. The traffic was immensely profitable. State bonds and bank bills to the amount of many millions were sent North by the brokers, and the rates of discount were readily submitted to when the returns were made in Yankee paper money, which, in the Richmond shops, was worth in Confederate notes ten dollars for one.
One--but only one--cause of the depreciation of the Confederate currency was illicit trade. It had done more to demoralize the Confederacy than anything else. The inception of this trade was easily winked at by the Confederate authorities; it commenced with paltry importations across the Potomac, it was said the country wanted medicines, surgical instruments and a number of trifles, and that trade with the Yankees in these could result in no serious harm. But by the enlarged license of the government it soon became an infamy and a curse to the Confederacy. What was a petty traffic in its commencement soon expanded into a shameless trade, which corrupted the patriotism of the country, constituted an anomaly in the history of belligerents, and reflected lasting disgrace upon the honesty and good sense of our government. The country had taken a solemn resolution to burn the cotton in advance of the enemy; but the conflagration of this staple soon came to be a rare event; instead of being committed to the flames it was spirited to Yankee markets. Nor were these operations always disguised. Some commercial houses in the Confederacy counted their gains by millions of dollars since the war, through the favour of the government in allowing them to export cotton at pleasure. The beneficiaries of this trade contributed freely to public charities and did certain favours to the government; but their gifts were but the parings of immense gains; and often those who were named by weak and credulous people or by interested flatterers as public-spirted citizens and patriotic donors, were, in fact, the most unmitigated extortioners and the vilest leeches on the body politic.--"The Second Year of the War"--pp: 304-5.
Of all the features of maladministration in the Confederacy, which we have unwillingly traced, that of the currency was, certainly, the most marked, and, perhaps, the most vital. Nothing could be more absurd than the faith of Mr. Davis and Mr. Memminger in the virtues of paper money, and no empiricism more ignorant and destructive than that which made the mere emission of paper issues a system of revenue. In the old government, we had had many emphatic lessons on the subject of
paper money. Indeed it is a curious and interesting fact, that in sixty years of our past history, the banking institutions of America had been, more or less, in a state of suspension for one third of the time.
But despite the protest of historical facts, against all systems of paper expansion, Mr. Memminger had succeeded by the time of the meeting of Congress, in putting afloat some seven hundred millions of currency; although at another time, he himself had declared that the business of the country could not conveniently absorb more than one hundred and fifty millions.* * Before the war the paper money of the whole country, North and South, was two hundred and twelve millions; the gold and silver, say one hundred and fifty millions--total circulation, three hundred and sixty-two millions.
And even that estimate of absorption was ridiculously excessive. It was so for this particular reason: that in the state of war, with its commerce cut off by the blocade, with no merchant ships, with few manufactures, with few enterprises open to capital, the South afforded but little scope for the profitable employment of its currency. The difficulty was that of stagnant capital as well as that of an expanded currency.
* Before the war the paper money of the whole country, North and South, was two hundred and twelve millions; the gold and silver, say one hundred and fifty millions--total circulation, three hundred and sixty-two millions.
At least one reason for the comparative financial prosperity of the North, during the war, was its capacity of absorbing large amounts of currency in the various functions of its active commercial life: in its trade open with all the world; in its shipping whitening every sea; in its immense internal trade, borne over immense lines of railroad and navigable waters; in its manufactures, enjoying the monopoly given them by a tariff, which shut out foreign competition; in its stocks which made fortunes by the million in Wall street.*
* The hey-day of "Wall Street" is thus described in a New York paper, (August, 1863): "Stocks have advanced on an average fully three hundred per cent. For example, the Erie formerly sold for five; it is now one hundred and twenty. The Galena and other roads of the same kind, which were down to thirty and forty, are now up to one hundred and thirty and one hundred and forty. The Harlem railroad, that nobody would take at six, has risen to one hundred and seventy. Formerly the average receipts of the Erie railroad were five millions; now they are eleven millions. The receipts of the New York Central formerly averaged seven millions; now they average eleven and a half millions. Formerly the Hudson River never could pay its debts; this year it is making thirty per cent. The Fort Wayne road formerly received two and a half millions annually; its receipts this year are five millions. The Central Illinois increased its receipts last week, by fifty thousand dollars, and it will earn this month four hundred thousand dollars."
But the agricultural South was inundated with a currency for which there was no outlet except in that pernicious and unproductive speculation whose sphere of trade is within itself,
and whose operations can be only those of engrossing and extortion. The evils of the expanded currency of the Confederacy, were not only financial; they were also moral. The superabundance of paper money was the occasion of a wild speculation, which corrupted the patriotism of the country; introduced extravagance and licentiousness into private life; bestowed fortune upon the most undeserving; and, above all, bred the most grave and dangerous discontents in the army. As long as there was a spirit of mutual sacrifice and mutual accommodation in the war our soldiers were content and cheerful. But when they had to compare their condition--the hardships of the camp; the pittance of eleven dollars a month, that could scarcely buy a pair of socks; the poverty of the dear home left behind them--with the easy and riotous wealth of those who had kept out of the army merely to wring money out of the necessity and distress of the country; who, in snug shops in Richmond, made thousands of dollars a day, or, by a single stroke of speculation, became rich for life; it is not to be wondered that bitter conclusions should have been drawn from the contrast, and that the soldier should have given his bosom to the bullets, with less alacrity and zeal, when he reflected that his martyrdom was to protect a large class of men grown rich on his necessities, and that too with the compliance and countenance of the government he defended!
At the period of the assembling of Congress, the military
situation in the Confederacy, which in the early part of 1863 had encouraged, not without apparent reasons, hopes of an early and honourable peace, had become overshadowed, critical, and, to some extent, truly alarming. At the time of the fall of Vicksburg, the enemy had also obtained an important and permanent success in Arkansas. The greater portion of the Southwest he had now overrun. Missouri, Kentucky and Northwestern Virginia, were exclusively occupied by the forces of the enemy. North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama, were partially invaded by him. He had passed the barrier of the Cumberland mountains, established his dominion in East Tennessee, and from his lines in the central West, now hoped to inundate South Carolina, Georgia and South Alabama.
In the face of this critical military situation, came the astounding disclosure from the Confederate Secretary of War, Mr. James Seddon, that the effective force of the army was "not more than a half, never two-thirds of the numbers in the ranks."
In stating this deplorable fact, the Secretary avoided attributing it to its paramount causes--the fault of his own administration; the remissness of discipline; the weak shunning of the death-penalty in our armies, and that paltry quackery which proposed to treat the great evil of desertion with "proclamations" and patriotic appeals. He did what was worse than this insincerity; for he proposed to repair that evil of absenteeism, which the government itself had occasioned, by new and violent measures to replenish the army. These were an extension of the conscription, which endangered the exhaustion of the military reserves of the country;--the ex post facto annulment of all contracts for substitution, which was to the scandal of the moral world, and to the lively dissatisfaction of more than seventy thousand persons, many of whom were indispensable in civil employments, and by their wealth and social position, commanded an influence which the government could not afford to despise;--and, to crown all, the supercedure of all exemptions by a system of details in the War Department, which would have transferred the question of all relief with respect to the burdens of the war, from the proper constitutional jurisdiction and collective
wisdom of Congress, to the exclusive discretion, caprice or malice of a single official.
Such measures were finished pieces of demagogueism. The various propositions made to Congress for further military draft at the expense of public faith, and the gravest interests of the citizen and producer was calculated to find favour, of course, in the army, which, as designing politicians knew, contained the great body of voters in the country and was destined to hold the balance of political power in the Confederacy.
The vice of our public men was an inordinate passion for an ephemeral and worthless popularity. The entire legislation of the country, Confederate and State, was demoralized by a peculiar demagogueism. All the legislative bodies of the country were filled with schemes of agrarianism for the benefit of the soldier, and assaults on the most important civil rights and interests at the instance of the blind passions of the army.
The annulment, by the Confederate Congress, of contracts heretofore concluded for military substitutes, was an act of unparalleled infamy. In making the assertion that the substitution was not a contract, but a privilege accorded by the authorities, the government adopted the argument of the despot: to this effect that the rights of the people is the pleasure of the sovereign, to be enjoyed with becoming humility. In assuming to break the contract as to the principal, and, at the same time, maintain it in force against the substitute, the government stultified itself, and violated the plainest and justest of legal maxims, that a contract broken on one side, is broken on all sides. In attempting this violence in the face of the admitted fact that nearly half of the army were out of the ranks, the government avoided the plain duty of replenishing the army with these absentees; proposed to replace seasoned veterans by raw malcontents; and, for a nominal accession to its military forces, to sacrifice recorded pledges; to wound the confidence and affections of the people; and to perpetrate a great moral evil, for which the compensation in any practical benefit was utterly disproportionate.
If such an act of perfidy had been accomplished by the Lincoln government, the Southern newspapers would have exclaimed against it as an unequalled example of despotism. But when
it was perpetrated by their own government, Southern journals, with few honourable exceptions, were base enough to sustain or disguise it; and one Southern Senator, at least--a man of the name of Brown--was ready in his official seat, and in the security of his own exemption from military service, to bully the people with an insufferable insolence and to flourish from the shelter of his parliamentary position, the vulgar and detestable threat of "military power."
But it is not necessary to pursue here, the legislation of the Confederate Congress, on military subjects. We have forborne to say here that the condition of our arms was desperate: it was critical, but there was no real occasion for despair, or for that violent anxiety which approaches it. There was yet much room for hope. We have stated that the amount of absenteeism in the army was, at least, in great part, the fault of the authorities, and it is therefore not to be taken as the indication of decay in the spirit of our soldiery. That spirit was yet brave and resolute. The displacement of Bragg from his command, which was at last unwillingly made by the President, had composed a dangerous discontent in the armies of the West, and was the occasion of the re-organization of our forces there, and a reassurance of the spirits of the troops. In Virginia, Lee still held the enemy at bay, and possessed the unanimous and enthusiastic confidence of the country and the army. At Charleston, Beauregard had checked the enemy; broken the line of his successes on the coast, and was advanced even in his former reputation as a skillful commander. If the prospect was chequered in the West, it was without a serious shadow in the East; and, although a large portion of the Confederacy had passed into the possession of the enemy, the general condition, at least, externally, was not so serious as when, in 1862, Richmond was threatened, and there were two hundred and ten thousand Federal soldiers in Virginia alone.
In the meantime there came a new and powerful appeal to the patriotism and resolution of the Confederacy. The Yankee
Congress had assembled simultaneously with that of the Confederacy, and, for the first time in the war, the conditions upon which peace would be made with the South were officially announced. They were contained in the message and proclamation of Abraham Lincoln.* * The following are the material portions of this remarkable proclamation: Whereas, In and by the Constitution of the United States, it is provided that the President shall have power to give reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment, and Whereas, a rebellion now exists whereby the loyal State Governments of several States have for a long time been subverted, and many persons have committed and are now guilty of treason against the United States, and Whereas, with reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have been enacted by Congress declaring forfeitures and confiscations of property, and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions therein stated; and also declaring that the President was thereby authorized at any time thereafter, by proclamation to extend to persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion in any State, or part thereof, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions, and at such times and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for the public welfare, and Whereas, the Congressional declaration for limited and conditional pardon accords with the well-established judicial exposition of the pardoning power, and Whereas, with reference to the said rebellion the President of the United States has issued several proclamations and provisions in regard to the liberation of slaves, and Whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion, to assume their allegiance to the United States, and to reinaugurate loyal State Governments within and for their respective States; Therefore, I Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare and make known to all persons who have directly or by implication participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property except as to slaves, and in property cases where the rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate, and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit: "I,--, do solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress or by decision of the Supreme Court, and that I will, in like manner, abide and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help me God." The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are all who are or shall have been civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate Government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid in the rebellion; all who are or shall have been military or naval officers of said so called Confederate Government above the rank of Colonel in the army, of Lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the rebellion. All who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States, and afterwards aided the rebellion, and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, who have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen or in any other capacity. And I do further proclaim, declare and make known, that whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one-tenth in number of the votes cast in such States, at the Presidential election of the year of our Lord, 1860, each having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall re-establish a State Government, which shall be republican, and in no wise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true Government of the State, and the State shall receive thereunder the benefit of the Constitutional provision which declares that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, on application of the Legislature or of the Executive, when the Legislature can not be convened, against domestic violence."
They were briefly these: the forcible
* The following are the material portions of this remarkable proclamation:
Whereas, In and by the Constitution of the United States, it is provided that the President shall have power to give reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment, and
Whereas, a rebellion now exists whereby the loyal State Governments of several States have for a long time been subverted, and many persons have committed and are now guilty of treason against the United States, and
Whereas, with reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have been enacted by Congress declaring forfeitures and confiscations of property, and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions therein stated; and also declaring that the President was thereby authorized at any time thereafter, by proclamation to extend to persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion in any State, or part thereof, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions, and at such times and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for the public welfare, and
Whereas, the Congressional declaration for limited and conditional pardon accords with the well-established judicial exposition of the pardoning power, and
Whereas, with reference to the said rebellion the President of the United States has issued several proclamations and provisions in regard to the liberation of slaves, and
Whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion, to assume their allegiance to the United States, and to reinaugurate loyal State Governments within and for their respective States;
Therefore, I Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare and make known to all persons who have directly or by implication participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property except as to slaves, and in property cases where the rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate, and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:
"I,--, do solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress or by decision of the Supreme Court, and that I will, in like manner, abide and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help me God."
The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are all who are or shall have been civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate Government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid in the rebellion; all who are or shall have been military or naval officers of said so called Confederate Government above the rank of Colonel in the army, of Lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the rebellion.
All who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States, and afterwards aided the rebellion, and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, who have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen or in any other capacity.
And I do further proclaim, declare and make known, that whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one-tenth in number of the votes cast in such States, at the Presidential election of the year of our Lord, 1860, each having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall re-establish a State Government, which shall be republican, and in no wise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true Government of the State, and the State shall receive thereunder the benefit of the Constitutional provision which declares that
"The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, on application of the Legislature or of the Executive, when the Legislature can not be convened, against domestic violence."
emancipation of the slaves; the perpetuity of confiscations; pardon on condition of an oath of allegiance to the government, to the Union, and to the Abolition party of the North; the exception from this pardon of all important ranks in the army and conditions in political life; and finally the monstrous "republican anomaly that one-tenth of the voters in any of the Confederate States, declaring for these terms, "should be recognized as the true government of the State."! In proposing these utterly infamous terms, this Yankee monster of inhumanity and falsehood, had the audacity to declare that in some of the Confederate States the elements for reconstruction were ready for action; that those who controlled them differed however as to
the plan of action; and that, "by the proclamation a plan is presented which may be accepted by them as a rallying point, and which they are assured in advance will not be rejected here."
This insulting and brutal proposition of the Yankee Government was the apt response to those few cowardly factions which in North Carolina, and in some parts of Georgia and Alabama, hinted at "reconstruction." It was as the sound of a trumpet to every brave man in the South to meet and to contest a question of life and death. Appeals had formerly been made in the Confederacy against "reconstruction" on such arguments as the conduct of the enemy in the war; his political prostitution; his vandalism; and sentimental motives of vengeance. There were truth and eloquence in those appeals. But now there was another added to them which addressed us not only in our passions but in every fibre of our selfishness, and in every ramification of our interests. It was the authoritative exposition to the South of the consequences of its submission. These could no longer be misconstrued: they were gibbets, proscription, universal poverty, the subversion of our social system, a feudal allegiance to the Abolitionists and the depths of dishonour.
The proclamation of President Lincoln was made under certain affectations of benevolent zeal for the negro. He declared that his former "emancipation" proclamation had "much improved the tone of public sentiment in foreign countries," and he insisted that to abandon it would be to the negro "a cruel and astounding breach of faith."
In view of these pretensions, it is not out of place here to make a brief summary of the true questions of the war, and its real relations to negro slavery in the South.
A French pamphlet on the American War, published at Paris, holds the following language:
"The pride of the North will never stoop to admit the superiority
"of Southern men; and yet it is from these that the
"Union drew its best statesmen and a majority of its presidents.
"The pride of the North will bend only to necessity, because it
"has not kept pace with the progress of the age. To-day the
"Americans of the North are as completely foreign to the family
"of nations as they were twenty years ago. They understand
"nothing but the narrowest and most mechanical mercantilism,
"the art of purchase and sale; and they long to annihilate the
"Confederate States in order that the South, by its intelligence,
"its enterprise, and the talent of its statesmen, may not
"throw down the rampart it has built up against Europeanism.
* * * "The federals are so well aware of this that the war
"which they are waging is really and mainly a war of interest.
"The producing, agricultural South was the commercial vassal
"of the North, which insists upon keeping its best customer:
"emancipation is merely a skillful device for entrapping the
"sympathies of European liberalism. * * * * * * The
"Northern idea of the abolition of slavery by making the negro
"food for powder or by exiling him from his home to die of hunger
"is now thoroughly understood in Europe. Our notions of
"philanthropy and our moral sense alike revolt from these ferocious
"exaggerations of the love of liberty."
The above is an admirable summary of the questions of the war--especially of the "slavery question." There is no doubt that the Anti-Slavery party in the North had, through the violence of its measures, and the exposure of its hollow pretensions for the negro, lost much of that sympathy in Europe which it had formerly obtained; while the war had also given occasion to intelligent persons in all parts of the world for a more thorough, a more interested and a more practical study of slavery in the South. The old stories which the newspapers of the enemy revived of fiendish masters in the South and pandemoniums on the cotton plantations, had now come to be objects of skepticism or derision in Europe; especially when these cheap and frightful romances were seen to be simply stories concocted between fugitive negroes and credulous fools who listened to them, and embellished them for "sensations" in Yankee prints.*
* The following was published in the summer of 1863, in Harper's Journal of Civilization. It is an excellent specimen of the "raw-head-and-bloody-bones" of Yankee literature on the subject of the negro. It purported to be the statement of fugitive slaves from an estate in Mississippi, "by way of illustrating the degree of brutality which slavery has developed in the South."
"The tratment of the slaves, they say, has been growing worse and worse for the last six or seven years.
"Flogging with a leather strap on the naked body is common; also, paddling the body with a hand-saw until the skin is a mass of blisters, and then breaking the blisters with the teeth of the saw. They have "very often" seen slaves stretched out upon the ground with hands and feet held down by fellow slaves, or lashed to stakes driven into the ground for "burning." Handfuls of dry corn husks are then lighted, and the burning embers are whipped off with a stick so as to fall in showers of live sparks upon the naked back. This is continued until the victim is covered with blisters. If, in his writhings of torture the slave gets his hands free to brush off the fire, the burning brand is applied to them.
"Another method of punishment, which is inflicted for the higher order of crimes such as running away, or other refractory conduct, is to dig a hole in the ground large enough for the slave to squat or lie down in. The victim is then stripped naked and placed in the hole, and a covering or grating of green sticks is laid over the opening. Upon this a quick fire is built, and the live embers sifted through upon the naked flesh of the slave, until his body is blistered and swollen almost to bursting. With just enough of life to enable him to crawl, the slave is then allowed to recover from his wounds if he can, or to end his sufferings by death.
" 'Charley Sloo' and 'Overton,' two hands, were both murdered by these cruel tortures. 'Sloo' was whipped to death, dying under the infliction, or soon after punishment. 'Overton' was laid naked upon his face and burned as above described, so that the chords of his legs and the muscles of the back refused longer to perform their office. He was, nevertheless, forced into the field to labor, but being crippled was unable to move quick enough to suit 'Jeems;' so one day, in a fit of passion, the struck him on the head with a heavy stick and killed him.
"Tom' had the consumption, but was forced to work in the cotton field. One night he was missing from his cabin. Two days afterward his body was found in the field, where he had fallen and died on his way home.'The poor old slave had gone to rest.'
" 'Edmond,' belonging on the widow G.'s plantation, has been a witness of or knowing to several cases of punishment by the burning process. Two of these were of girls belonging to the widow G., in New Orleans, and the others occurring on her 'island plantation,' before referred to. America, wife of Essex, one of the women in the party, related the particulars, of one case, as follows: There was a middle-aged womad in the family, named Margaret who had a nursing child. Mrs. G. ordered Margaret to wean the child. The babe was weakly, and Margaret did not wish to do so. Mrs. G. told her that she would examine her breast the next Monday, and, if she found any milk in it, she would punish her severely. Monday came round, and on that day Margaret's stent was to spin eighteen "broaches"--spools--but she did not finish it. At night the promised examination took place, and the breast of Margaret gave but too convincing proof that, in obedience to the yearnings of a mother's heart, she had spurned the threat of the inhuman mistress. Mrs. G. then ordered the handsaw, the leather strap, and a wash bowl of water. The woman was laid upon her face, her clothes stripped up to around her neck and 'Becky' and 'Jane' were called to hold her hands and feet. Mrs. G. then paddled her with the hand-saw, sitting composedly in a chair over her victim. After striking some one hundred blows, she changed to the use of the leather strap, which she would dip into the wash bowl in order to give it greater power of torture. Under this infliction, the screams of the woman died away to a faint moan, but the 'sound of the whip' conttnued until nearly 11 o'clock. 'Jane' was then ordered to bring the hot tongs, the woman was turned over upon her back, and Mrs. G. attempted to grasp the woman's nipples with the heated implement. The writhings of the mother foiled her purpose; but between the breasts the skin and flesh were horribly burned."
In connection with the subject of the relations of slavery to the war, it becomes interesting to inquire what real benefits to the negro were accomplished by the political measures of the Lincoln government. The famous "emancipation" proclamation extended "freedom" to the negro, merely to subject him to a worse fate, and to transfer him from the peaceful service of the plantation to that of the military camp. It was followed by various acts of Congress to enlist the negro in the military service. It was stated by Mr. Seward, in a diplomatic circular dated the 12th of August, 1863, that nearly seventy thousand negroes were at that time employed in the Yankee armies, of whom twenty-two thousand were actually bearing arms in the
field; and at a later date (that of the meeting of the Yankee Congress in December), the whole number of these African allies of the North was said to exceed one hundred thousand. The employment, as soldiers, against the Confederacy, of this immense number of blacks, was a brutality and crime in sight of the world; it was the ignoring of civilization in warfare; it was a savage atrocity inflicted on the South;--but it, certainiy, was no benefit to the negro. It could be no benefit to him that he should be exposed to the fury of the war, and translated from a peaceful and domestic sphere of labour to the hardships of the camp and the mortal perils of the battle-field.
The scheme of the colonization of the negro in the invaded
districts of the South, was alike destitute of benefit to him, and destructive of the white "civilization" under whose auspices it was conducted. Wherever this new system of labour was introduced, the negro suffered, the plantation relapsed into weeds, the garden disappeared, and desolation and ruin took up their abodes. It had converted the rice coasts of South Carolina into barrens. It had been instituted on a grand scale in Louisiana. The result was, to use the language of a Yankee writer, this beautiful State was fast becoming "an alligator pleasure-ground." Where formerly had flourished rich and teeming plantations, were to be seen here and there some show of cultivation, some acres of corn and cane; but these were "government" plantations; the able-bodied negroes had been forced into the Yankee military service, and a few aged and shiftless negroes, who poked lazily through the weed-growth, were the only signs of labour in the vast districts occupied by the enemy. In Louisiana, where the Yankees had indulged such hopes of "infusing new life" by free labour and the scientific farming of Massachusetts, the development of the country, its return in crops, in wealth amounted to little more than nothing. The negro had merely exchanged his Southern master for a Massachusetts shoe-maker, who was anxious to become a Louisiana sugar-maker. His condition was not improved; his comforts were decreased; and the country itself, redeemed by the most tedious labours from the waters of the Mississippi, and brought to a point of fertility unexampled in American soils, was fast reverting to the original swamp. Louisiana had taken more than fifty years to raise the banks of the Mississippi, to drain and redeem the swamp lands, and to make herself a great producing State. But, said the New York World. "it has required
"only a few months for the Administration at Washington
"to prepare the State for its return to its original worthlessness;
"to 'restore' it to barbarism; to re-people it, in spots,
"with half-bred bastards; to drive out every vestige of civilization,
"and to make the paradise of the South a rank, rotten,
"miasmatic, alligator and moccasin swamp-ground again."
The fact is indisputable, that in all the localities of the Confederacy where the enemy had obtained a foothold, the negroes
had been reduced by mortality during the war to not more than one-half their previous number.
The affectation of the Yankee for the good of the negro was intended (however ineffectually), to solicit the sympathies of Europe in the war. It could no longer hope to impose upon the South, and it did not hesitate to unmask to it its brutal and ferocious insincerity. In the meantime, the "war-to-the-knife" party in the North, with the large accession of so many blacks to its armies, and a recent confirmation at the polls of its party strength, was preparing for new careers of atrocity and crime.
While thus the war waxed in the hands of the North, the Administration at Richmond had nothing to respond to its ferocity but a feeble sentimentalism and a weak protest for the rights of humanity, which amused the enemy, and disgusted the stern spirit of a people fighting for their liberties. "Retaliation" had by this time become a lost word in our vocabulary. In the year now well nigh past, the Yankees had enacted barbarities greater than those of former years, in proportion as they were encouraged by impunity. They had burned the town of Darien, and this, one of the oldest towns in Georgia, the New Inverness of Oglethorpe's time, was now a plain of ashes and blackened chimneys. They had, in a raid on the Combahee, committed to the flames the beautiful town of Bluffton. They had attempted to destroy Charleston by an incendiary composition. They had made a desert of the whole country between the Big Black and the Mississippi, and in every district of the South which they had penetrated, houses had been either pillaged or burnt, crops laid waste, and enormities committed which exhausted the calendar of crimes.
Yet we have seen that when General Lee invaded the territory of the North he had omitted even the devastation of the enemy's country, had paid the Yankees' own prices for their supplies, and had, in fact, given a protection to their property which had never been afforded that of our own citizens, either
from the rapacity of the soldier or that of the impressment agent.
It is true that of this singular behaviour President Davis said in his message to Congress: "Though the forbearance may
"have been unmerited and unappreciated by the enemy, it was
"imposed by their" [our soldiers] "own self-respect, which forbade
"their degenerating from Christian warriors into plundering
"ruffians." But herein the President sought to impose upon the public mind not only a wretched piece of sentimentalism, but a glaring fallacy, alike unworthy of his intellect. The punishment of the Yankees for what they had done in the South certainly did not mean an imitation of the wrong--a retaliation in kind. The Southern people had almost unanimously applauded General Lee's orders in Pennsylvania restraining pillage and private outrage. But there were penalties other than those of marauding which might have been measured out to the enemy, and have inflicted upon him some injury commensurate with what we had suffered at his hands. It would not have been unjust, it would not have been immoral, it would not have detracted from our "self-respect," it would not have endangered the discipline of our troops, it would not have been an act unbecoming "Christian warriors," to have laid waste the enemy's country, if done under the justification of retaliation, with the deliberation of official orders, and by the army acting in line of battle. But no such orders were given; no such lines of battle carried with it the chastisements of real war; and the fertile acres of the Pennsylvania Valley were untouched by the hands of the "Christian warriors."
The subject of "retaliation" brings to the mind a number of specific acts in which the Confederate government had failed, alike, in the execution of justice and in the protection of its own people. The record of these affords an exhibition of weakness that is, positively, without parallel in the history of governments. In contrasting the rival administrations of the North and South, it is indispensable here to make a brief review of the incidents to which we have referred in the history of the "retaliation" policy. They are rapidly grouped in the summary which follows.
1. Shortly after the capture of New Orleans, General Butler
executed a citizen of the Confederacy, William B. Munford, for the extraordinary crime of "disrespect" to the Yankee flag.
Instead of making prompt retaliation, the Confederate government found a conveniently circuitous course in addressing, several months after the event, the singularly gratuitous inquiry to the Lincoln government, whether the act of Butler was "approved," by it.
The authorities at Washington returned this answer:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 1862.
Gen'l R. E. Lee, Comd'g, &c.:
General--Your two communications of the 2nd inst., with enclosures, are received. As these papers are couched in language exceedingly insulting to the government of the United States, I must respectfully decline to receive them. They are returned herewith.
Your ob't serv't,
H. W. HALLECK,
Gen'l-in-Chief U. S. Army.
2. At Palmyra, in Missouri, General McNeil murdered in cold blood ten soldiers of the Confederacy.
Although the Confederate government must have had prompt official intelligence of this outrage, it was only several months thereafter, when "the Palmyra massacre" had been inconveniently noised in the newspapers, that President Davis ordered by telegraph the execution, in retaliation, of ten Yankee prisoners, in the department of the Trans-Mississippi.
The bloody telegram, communicated by the Richmond authorities to the press with peculiar liberality of information, quieted it and consoled the public. But that was all; the telegraphic order was never executed; it was a dead letter, that died in the public mind; and the Palmyra massacre was not only unavenged, but justice itself was cheated by a false and most unworthy show of compliance with its demands.
3. Under the "Death Order" of Burnside, two Confederate officers, Captains Corbin and McGraw, had been executed for recruiting white soldiers in Kentucky, a part of our own territory
embraced in our political system and represented in our Congress; at a time when the Yankees were recruiting negro soldiers in our political jurisdiction, and in the circle of our homes.
By the order of the Confederate government, two Yankee prisoners were selected by a formal lot at Richmond, upon whom retaliation was to be visited. The day of their execution was fixed. But instead of hanging them, President Davis arranged a back-door of mercy by commissioning a personage no less considerable than Mr. Stephens, Vice-President of the Republic, to make arrangements in Washington "to temper the present cruel character of the contest." The "back-door of mercy" was closed in his face. Mr. Stephens went as far as Hampton Roads, where he was stopped by the enemy's Admiral, with the curt information from Washington, that the enemy wished no further communication with the Confederacy than it already had through the ordinary military channels.
In the meantime, the Yankee government, without troubling itself with a selection by lot, had summarily designated two of the most important prisoners in its hands as victims to repay with their lives the tragedy that had been appointed at Richmond. The consequences were, that the tragedy did not come off, but the Confederate government replied with some brave words, that it was not dismayed by the threat, but would, at its convenience, execute the penalties it had pronounced. The day of execution passed; there was no public notice of respite or pardon; there was no other day of execution appointed; and the convenient silence of the authorities was evidence enough that the matter was dropped, and that they desired it to pass out of the public mind. Thus terminated this issue of "retaliation."
4. A notorious renegrade, Rucker, was taken in the ranks of the enemy in Western Virginia, and committed as a spy and murderer. The Yankees threatened the life of one of our prisoners of war, if he should be executed.
The criminal was kept fifteen months without a trial, and at last conveniently escaped. There was no possible occasion for the extraordinary delay of a trial, unless that the Confederate
authorities feared to risk its conclusion, for the evidence was ready, abundant, and immediately at hand to convict him.
5. The Yankees imprisoned women for waving handkerchiefs at our prisoners. For offences not much more considerable, they put them in political jails, and subjected them to the vilest indignities, and to penalties which made no distinction of sex.
In the summer of 1863, a Mrs. Patterson Allen, a Yankee woman, was detected in Richmond holding the most brutal and treasonable communication with the enemy; pointing out to him objects for his resentment; and proposing to betray into his hands as prisoner a minister of Christ, under whose roof, at the time the letter was written, the Yankee spy and traitress was herself a guest, and a sick child of the minister was dying in the absence of its father.
By special direction of the Confederate Secretary of War, Mr. Seddon, Mrs. Patterson Allen, a fashionable woman, was sent, not to prison, but to the Asylum, Frances de Sales, in Richmond. Her trial had not yet taken place; and for nearly six months the vulgarity of a legal prison was spared her, and a romantic confinement in a charitable institution was the chivalric invention of the Confederacy for the crime of treason!
6. It had been estimated by the Confederate Commissioner of Exchange, in the fall of 1863, that the enemy held in imprisonment not less than one thousand citizens of the Confederacy, who had been captured in peaceful employments, and were in no way amenable as combatants in the war.
In a correspondence on the subject of exchange of prisoners, the Confederate government protested against the outrageous practice of the enemy in arresting non-combatants and kidnapping private citizens within his military lines or elsewhere within his reach. But the enemy continued these arrests, and no retaliation was ever attempted. At the time unarmed citizens of the Confederacy were torn from their homes in Mississippi and sent to the jails of Memphis, General Lee protected the citizens of Pennsylvania, and allowed them even to avow their political animosity in his camps.
7. When General Morgan was captured by the enemy, he was carried to Cincinnati, and thence he and twenty-eight of
his officers were taken to Columbus, Ohio, where they were shaved, their hair cut close by a negro convict, and then locked up in cells. Seven days afterwards, forty-two more of General Morgan's officers were conveyed from Johnston's Island to the penitentiary, and subjected to the same indignities.
A correspondence ensued between the Commissioners of Exchange on the subject of these cruelties and indignities, in which the excuse was made by the enemy that the Federal authority was not responsible for them, implying that the State of Ohio having these captives in her custody, had chosen to associate them with convicts.
Yet, at this time, our government was, in deference to "general orders" at Washington, treating as prisoners of war negroes captured in arms, who were clearly responsible to the authority of the States, under State laws, as criminals. No surrender of these criminals was made to any of the States of the Confederacy, and when South Carolina made some motion in the matter, it was strangely hushed up, and the negro malfactors retained to this day by the Confederate authority in fnll enjoyment of the privileges accorded them by Yankee edict, as "prisoners of war."
8. The enemy had violated the cartel. Under this cartel, for many months, we had restored to the enemy many thousands of prisoners in excess of those whom he held for exchange. But in July, when the fortune of war favoured the Yankees, and they held the excess of prisoners, they had broken the cartel; they had refused to return to our lines the prisoners taken at Gettysburg; and they had gone further even than this treachery, for they had not only retained the prisoners captured by them, but they had declared null the paroles given by the prisoners captured by us in the same series of engagements.
What were the returns of the Confederate government for this outrage? It allowed the prisoners in our hands comforts not enjoyed by the men who captured them in battle. It permitted the Yankee captives in Richmond to receive stores from the North to the amount of half a million of dollars. It indulged them in a festival; and while our prisoners were sighing in the dungeons and penitentiaries of the North, or at Johnston's
Island, were (to use President Davis' own statement), dying from the slow tortures of cold, "exposed to the piercing cold of the Northern lakes, by men who cannot be ignorant of, even if they do not design, the probable result," a table d'hote was spread in the Libby Prison at Richmond, with all the luxuries that the teeming markets of the Northern cities could afford. And this licentiousness, with its awful and terrible contrast to our own people, went by the name of Christian charity in Richmond, and was a pleasant humanity to be told to Europe!
* * * * * In his message to Congress, President Davis eloquently adverted to the savage ferocity of the enemy and his crimes. But he had not a word to say of what had become of all his proclamations, pronunciamentoes, gloomy appeals and terrible threatenings with respect to retaliation. The truth was they had never resulted in one solitary performance; they were a record of bluster and an exhibition of weakness and shame upon which the President might well turn his back. It is remarkable that Mr. Davis in all these proceedings touching questions of retaliation should have shown a character so different from that which he exhibited in the domestic controversies and intrigues of his administration. In his controversies with his military officers he was very obstinate, very bitter; in his attachment to certain favourites and to certain measures of domestic policy he was immoveable and defiant. It was only when his duty brought him in contact with the enemy that these imperious traits of character disappeared, and were replaced by halting timidity and weak hesitation.
It was unfortunate that the Confederate President ever made any threats of retaliation, since he had not the resolution to perform them. They had been ineffectually repeated until they had become the sneer of the enemy. But the most unfortunate consequence of the want of a proper response to the cruel assumptions of power by the North was the moral effect it had upon our own people; for it implied a certain guilt, a certain moral inferiority in the South of which the enemy had the right to take advantage. It converted the relations between us and our foes to those of the malfactor and the constable; it depressed our
sense of right; and it gave to the soldier the bitter reflection that his government cared but little for him in that martyrdom on the gallows or captivity in dungeons with the terrours of which the enemy assailed him.
Finally, there is this to be said of the rival administrations of Richmond and Washington: that if in the former there were to be found many evidences of weakness, these, at least, were not crimes, while if in the latter there were to be seen vigour and decision, they were associated with the insolence of the reprobate and the inhumanity of the savage. If the history of the retaliation policy and other questions which we have traced, exhibits imbecility on the part of the Confederate authorities, it has this compensation: that it has inseparably connected with it a fearful record of the inhumanity and crime of the enemy.
In this conflict, which as to governments was that between the weakly good and the resolutely evil, the people of the Confederacy had but little to expect from their political authorities; but it was precisely the condition in which they had much to expect from the resources of their own righteous and aroused passions.
In connection with his "peace" proclamation, the Yankee President pointed with an air of triumph to the great resources of the North for the prosecution of the war. There was an actual surplus in its treasury. While the Confederacy had collected only one hundred millions from its tax and revenue system, the receipts of the Yankee treasury were nine hundred millions. The Yankee army was increased. The Yankee navy now numbered nearly six hundred vessels, and seventy-five of them were iron-clads or armoured steamers. The Yankee political parties had accommodated their differences and no longer embarrassed the authorities at Washington. "The crisis which threatened to divide the friends of the Union is past," said Mr. Lincoln.
The long continued delusion, indulged by Southern men, of "a peace party" in the North, which would eventually compel
peace on the terms of the Confederacy, is to be compared to that similar delusion of Northern politicians, which insisted that "a Union party" existed in the South, and that it was only temporarily suppressed by a faction. There was not the least foundation in fact for either of these opinions; and the agreeable confidence of the South in its supposed friends in the North, had been rudely dispelled by events that admitted of but one construction. The South had mistaken for substantial tokens of public sentiment the clamours and exaggerations of party elections. The Democratic party in the North, went into the fall elections of 1863, on the issue of a general opposition to the Lincoln Administration; at the same time, promising a vigorous "constitutional" prosecution of the war, while their vague allusions to an impossible peace and platitudes of fraternal sentiment were merely intended to catch favour in the South, and really meant nothing. Even Mr. Seymour, of New York, managed, while cozening the South, to maintain, on the other hand, a cordial understanding with the authorities at Washington; and he found it necessary to conclude one of his finest speeches, by saying, "never have I embarrassed the Administration, and I never will."
But even on its moderate issues, with reference to the war, which, as we have seen, proposed only certain constitutional limitations, the Democratic party in the North, had been badly beat in the fall elections. From Minnesota to Maine, the Democrats were defeated. In the latter which was supposed to be the least fanatical of the New England States, the Republicans had carried the election by an overwhelming majority. In Ohio, Vallandigham had been defeated. He was still in exile. Voorhies, who had proclaimed doctrines somewhat similar to his, in a neighbouring State, narrowly escaped being lynched by the soldiers. The elections were followed by a remarkable period of political quiet in the North. Those who had the courage to confront the administration of Lincoln, had either been suppressed by the strong hand of lawless power, or had supinely sought safety in silence. The overthrow of free government in the North was complete, and now in the winter of 1863, the usurpation at Washington stood unchallenged and unrebuked.
It had now a united people, and unexhausted treasury, enlarged military resources and a confidence more insolent than eyer.
Richmond, in December 1863, was a sombre city. An air of gloom pervaded the public offices. In Congress, Mr. Foote told his endless story of official corruption and imbecility, and had his savage jokes on "the pepper doctor from North Carolina," who governed the commissariat of the Confederacy. There were no social gaieties, although disreputable balls and gambling "hells" still amused those immoral mobs, at all times inseparable from a metropolis. In the streets there was the perpetual juggle of bargain and sale, apparently unconscious of the war, simply because engrossed in individual avarice; the clatter of the auction sales; the levity of the thoroughfare. But there was the seriousness of anxiety, if not the gloom of despair, in the home, in the private sanctuary, in the public office--in every place where thoughtful minds contemplated the future, and looked beyond the circle of the twenty-four hours.
Washington was gay, in the meantime, not with thoughtlessness, but with exultations over the prospects of the war, and the promises of its government. Balls, "diamond" weddings, Presidential levees, social parties, with splendid arrays of silks and jewels, with all the phantasy of wealth, the insolence of licentiousness, and the fashionable commerce of lust, amused the hours. Mr. Lincoln was jocose again. He snapped his fingers at "the rebellion." He attended the theatre nightly. This piece of human jacquerie chattered incessantly over the success of his schemes. The Northern newspapers indulged the almost immediate prospect of a peace, which was to irradiate the Yankee arms, humiliate the South, and open the door to the prosperity of the conquerors in an indiscriminate plunder, and the lasting vassalage of the vanquished. The New York Herald declared, that even if this event did not happen in the festivities of the Christmas season of '63, it would certainly be celebrated in the early part of the ensuing year.
* * * * * * Intelligent men of the South, understood the approaching issues. The war was to be prosecuted by the North with certain important accessions to its former advantages; and, on the side of the South, there was a demand for a
new measure of that devotion in the minds of the people, which wins success on unequal terms--and WITHOUT WHICH all expedients of State, all violence of legislation, and all commands of authority are utterly in vain.
There is a little piece of official history which may be properly given here, in connection with certain questions pending in the Confederate Congress while the foregoing pages have been passing through the press.
On the 8th of January, '64, Mr. Dargan, of Alabama, referred in the House of Representatives to "acts of merciless cruelty" on the part of the authorities, with reference to exemptions, which it was then proposed, by a certain demagogical bill in the House, to entrust exclusively and omnipotently to the Executive. He illustrated the epithets applied by an instance where a man had been mercilessly put in the military service who had never walked and never been able to walk a quarter of a mile in any one day in his life, and all the efforts made by Mr. Dargan with the Secretary of War to procure his release had so far been unavailing.
Yet it appears, from a certain record, that the same official who had been so exacting to the cripple, and who solicited from Congress plenary powers on the subject of exemptions, had given, over his own name, a special, secret exemption, to a man who professed to him that he was writing a history of the war; in which it was, of course, expected that Mr. James Seddon would be one of the figure-heads in the gallery of celebrities.
This little piece of nefarious traffic in an official's vanity is of record: else it might be doubted whether, even in our Democratic system, a man occupying Mr. Seddon's position could be so easily and shamefully used.
We copy the extraordinary paper below; omitting the name of its beneficiary, because it is not necessary to history, and because we are anxious to spare all private feelings which are not materially involved in a public issue:
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,
RICHMOND, October 20, 1863.
Mr. ---- not being a native or naturalized citizen of the Confederacy, AND MOREOVER, being engaged in compiling a work of interest to our people, and advantageous to our cause, is exempt until further orders from conscription.
JAMES A. SEDDON.
Secretary of War.
Of this curious paper two remarks are to be made:
1. If Mr. ---- had relied for exemption upon his alienage, (a plea we must suppose him unwilling to admit, after his literary exploits for the Confederacy,) then it was quite unnecessary for the Secretary to assign "moreover" his literary adventure as a cause of exemption.
2. If Mr. ---- had relied for exemption, upon his alienage, it was not for the Secretary of War, but for the consular authority or the courts to give him the benefit of that plea.
This record may appear to be a small matter for history. It is not: it is one evidence, selected because it is indisputable, of the spirit that is fast reducing the administration of the Confederate affairs to schools of demagogueism and paltry inventions of personal vanity.