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equality, a sort of "d-n you, I am as good as you are,” which placed two classes in society in an exasperated and bitter contest that was constantly going on in Yankeedom beneath the outward semblances of its social laws; that this insolent democracy was especially the product of free schools, that educated the population just to the point of irreverence and egotism; that in the South there was to be found the most perfect democracy in the world; that there was a voluntary and tacit acknowledgment of distinctions in Southern society (hence the conservatism of this part of America), and that, this difference once implied, the intercourse between the different classes was unrestricted and genial, with a pleasant admission of equality in all respects where equality was to be properly admitted. These propositions might be expanded into illustration and argument enough to make a book. But surely any one who knows anything of the South must have observed the easy and pleasant intercourse between its social classes, in which the humblest is treated with polite respect, so much in contrast to those insulting assumptions on the one hand and browbeating on the other, which make up Yankee society. Where a laboring man would, in the North, be stopped at the door of the rich by a servant and held at arm's length in any intercourse the patron might find necessary with him, in the South he might be asked to dinner-certainly, would be treated with much more real respect than by the aristocratic Yankee with whom he contests the claim of equality and fraternity.
July 8.-I have received to-day a gratifying letter from my lady friend in Boston. She writes:
"Remember that you are to count us among your friends; and what is the use of friends, if you will not give them the privilege of ministering to you in prison. Send to us for any thing you need. We are of the practical style, and our fingers and feet, as well as our heads and hearts, are at your service."
Such testimonies of sympathy illuminate the prison, and make us think more kindly of the world outside.
July 14.-The Yankee newspapers we have got here, for several days past, have been in an incessant gabble about Early's and Breckinridge's invasion of Maryland. Apropos, here is a good "slap" at Massachusetts, from a New York paper:
"The Boston Journal, in a fit of heroics, wants to know how far an invading army of Confederates could march into Massachusetts. That would depend upon the time allowed the officials of that State to visit Kentucky and recruit."
"HAVE WE A GOVERNMENT?"-A Commentary on "Retaliation."
JULY 15.-There is one question here constantly on the lips, or in the meditations of the prisoners. It is, "Have we a Government?" We do not hear of any thing done by the Richmond authorities in behalf of tens of thousands of Confederate prisoners, and we are left starkly and desperately to the contingencies of the future.
We know very well that it is not the fault of our Government that an exchange of prisoners is not made. Such an exchange has been estopped by the choice and action of the Yankees ; and in doing so, this vile and sinister people have effected one of the most barbarous penalties of war-captivity. Such a penalty is opposed to the spirit and humanity of the age; in civilized war, the only object of taking prisoners is to exchange them, certainly not to condemn them to the savage horrors of captivity.
But, then, although our government is acquitted of the nonexecution of the cartel, and this brutal infraction of civilized usage, why does it not manifest what concern it can for its prisoners, in some substantial acts of retaliation for the intolerable and terrible atrocities attendant on their imprisonment. This is where the question pinches. It is, with respect to outrages upon its prisoners that the Confederate Government has most abundant occasion and opportunity for retaliation; and it is with respect to this that it has done less to satisfy justice and vindicate the rights of a belligerent.
There is a pitiable page of sophistry and weakness in the records of this war. It is the history of Jefferson Davis's policy of retaliation. While that history has afforded no instance of a single substantial act of retribution, it is replete with pretences of such, designed to conciliate the popular demand for retaliation, and to impose upon the world an appearance of spirit.
These pretences have been silly enough. Some days ago I read in the newspapers, that the authorities at Richmond had placed certain Yankee prisoners in a house in Charleston, in retaliation for the attempted bombardment of a city still inhabited by women and children. What nonsense! The peril of the prisoners is imaginary, when women and children walk the streets where they are placed without fear; yet it is a convenient text for the Yankee on the subject of "rebel barbarities," and an occasion, perhaps, for a prejudice against us, wherein we profit nothing.
The subject of Yankee prisons is theme enough for retaliation. There are in this fort, condemned to solitary confinement, certain Confederate prisoners, whose terrible doom calls loudly for the interposition of their Government, and illustrates how that Government has stultified itself by submission to the claims of the Yankee to enact the part of magistrate over those whom the fate of war has placed in their hands. I have been enabled to obtain some facts about these unhappy men.
CASE OF MAJOR ARMESY, &C.
Major Thomas D. Armesy was formerly a private in the Thirty-first Virginia regiment. He had raised a company in Western Virginia, near Clarksburg, and having turned this over to the Confederate service, went back in the spring of 1863, commissioned to raise a battalion in this part of Virginia. William F. Gordon, the adjutant of his old regiment, also took a part in this recruiting service, and was commissioned a captain in Armesy's battalion.
In April, 1863, Armesy, Gordon, and Lieutenant Harris, were captured by the Yankees in the houses where they were staying. They had taken the precaution to destroy their muster rolls, and to appoint a rendezvous for their recruits outside of the enemy's lines of occupation.
Armesy and Davis were taken to Fort Norfolk (near Norfolk, Va.), thence to Fortress Monroe, apparently for exchange; when they were suddenly ordered back to Fort McHenry in October, 1863.
They were tried by a Yankee court-martial. They were
charged with recruiting in Western Virginia, a part of the Southern Confederacy, represented in its Congress, and, though overrun by the enemy, yet, legally, by the act of secession of the State, and by the express organization of our revolution, within the Confederate jurisdiction. There was but a single specification to the charge: The official order of the War Department of the Confederate States, authorizing the recruiting service in which Armesy had been engaged. On this charge and specification Armesy and Davis were sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment at hard labor.
A yet more terrible judgment was reserved for Gordon, who had also been confined at Fort McHenry. He was sentenced to be shot. On the day appointed for his execution in the fort, the brave Confederate had taken leave of his family, and had been marched out, carrying his shroud under his arm, with a dauntless air, when an order came from Washington, revoking the sentence.
The sentence of Armesy and Davis was executed by putting them to the dirtiest and vilest work in the fort, cleaning sinks, &c. They were subsequently transferred to Fort Delaware, and thence they were brought to this fort; their sentence being so far modified as to require them to serve out their term of fifteen years in solitary confinement.