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CHAP. XLII.]

165

ages of eighteen and thirty-five, not legally exempt, from state control, and placed him absolutely under the orders of the Confederate President during the war. Was it to this that state rights had come? Not a little was added to the bitterness now felt when it was found that many of the states thus stripped of their able-bodied men were to be left to the mercy of the invader. "Arkansas," said her governor in his address, "severed her connection with the United States upon the doctrine of state sovereignty. She has lavished her blood in support of the Confeder acy: she did this because she believed that when the evil hour came upon her the Confederate flag would be found floating upon her battlements, defying the invader, and giving succor to her people. Arkansas-lost, abandoned, subjugated—is not that Arkansas who entered the Confederacy, nor will she remain Arkansas-a Confederate state, as desolate as a wilderness. It was for liberty she struck, and not for subordination to any created secondary power North or South."

Disappointment of the states.

WAR LEGISLATION.

Hard as it was, this conscription law was thoroughly executed. It accomplished its purpose. For the time it was the salvation of the Confederacy. The reluctant conscripts were hurried into Virginia to confront McClellan, and, raw as they were, they hurled him out of the Peninsula. They saved Richmond, put Washington in imminent peril, invaded Maryland, and watered their horses in the rivers of Pennsylvania.

tious.

But this was not enough. Conscription had again to Renewed conscrip- be pressed until the very brink of social exhaustion was reached. The first body of 100,000 volunteers had been exhausted; a second body of 400,000 volunteers had proved to be insufficient. At this period there were not fewer than 210,000 men in the Confederate service. Volunteering was at an end. Pro

THE OPPOSITION.

168

[SECT. VII.

Opposition to the

It must not be supposed that Davis, and those who acted with him, carried their measures without President. serious opposition in their Congress. The member of that body whose testimony I have quoted (p. 159) remarks that even in the provisional Congress a tendency to centralization was apparent, and that “Mr. Davis vetoed more bills during that provisional regime than all the presidents of the United States, from Washington to Lincoln inclusive."

Arbitrary course of

In vain a few independent members attempted to prevent the passage of laws suspending the the government. writ of habeas corpus; confiscating the estates of all who could not conscientiously range themselves in opposition to the flag of their fathers; putting under conscription all male citizens capable of bearing arms, whether they were friendly or hostile to the Confederate cause; forcibly impressing private property, wheresoever situated, at the discretion of men endowed temporarily with military authority; declaring and enforc ing martial law. In spite of them, inefficient and mischievous officials were appointed, to the exclusion of the capable and virtuous; able military commanders were displaced to make way for others despised by the army, and hated and distrusted by the citizens.

These measures, and others of a like character, were carried against all opposition. A single member, by mov ing it, could force the House to sit with closed doors, and thus in secret session, and under what was known as the ten minutes' rule, measures the most dangerous and doubtful might be passed. It was thus with the Erlanger loan, a shameless speculation introduced under the auspi ces of Messrs. Slidell and Benjamin; thus, too, with the Confiscation Act.

As it became more and more apparent that the promises Davis had made of a short and successful war were

CHAP. XLII.] DECLINE OF THE INFLUENCE OF DAVIS.

not likely to be realized, his popularity declined. An influential newspaper declared that he had been "hastily and unfortunately inflicted on the Confederacy at Montgomery, and, when fixed in posi tion, banished from his presence the head and brain of the South, denying all participation in the affairs of the gov ernment to the great men who were the authors of seces sion." Elsewhere it was affirmed that "the great men of the past and their families are proscribed as if this gov ernment was the property of a few who happen to wield power at present." It was declared that "the people can no longer get access to the President; he is surrounded by officers like an imperial court." Nor were these accusations groundless; the ablest writers of the South-such as Fitzhugh, De Bow, Fisher-whose works had in reality formed public opinion, and who were entitled to the most prominent positions, were treated with contumely; one was offered a low clerkship, which he spurned with contempt; another died of a broken heart.

Decline of the influence of Davis.

Neglect of the leaders of the movement.

169

"He has notions of imperial greatness;" "his head is Acensations against completely turned by his sudden elevation;" the President, "he is the victim of the weakest weakness, vanity;" "he is the dupe of the intriguing machinations of cunning and unscrupulous managers, whose true character he has never penetrated"-such were the bitter objurgations of those who had recently been Davis's friends. One pointed out in detail that all the military reverses of the Confederacy might be directly traced to his unhappy interventions; another sneeringly recalled that when McClellan was in sight of Richmond, the President was being baptized at home, and then privately confirmed in St. Paul's Church; that, during the battle of June 28th, "he was in the lanes and orchards near the field of ac tion praying for abundant success."

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170

[SECT. VIII.

These bitter animosities were not restricted to the President; his cabinet bore their share. The ignorance of one; the incompetence of another; the want of ordinary honesty in a third, were openly proclaimed. It was affirmed that a person who had pursued the empirical practice of a vegetarian quackdoctor was intrusted with one of the most important military offices. "His manners were coarse, overbearing, and insulting; he was utterly ignorant of the duties of the post assigned to him, and was not at all solicitous to make himself acquainted with them. He exhibited a brutal indifference to the sufferings of the Confederate soldiery, by all of whom he was most cordially detested."

Imprisonment of

Mr. Foote declares: "As chairman of a special committee of the Confederate Congress, organsuspected persons. ized at my own motion, for the purpose of inquiring into cases of illegal imprisonment, I obtained from the superintendent of the prison-house in Richmond, under the official sanction of the Department of War itself, a grim and shocking catalogue of several hundred persons then in confinement therein, not one of whom was charged with any thing but suspected political infidelity, and this, too, not upon oath in a single instance. Before I could take proper steps to procure the discharge of these unhappy men, the second suspension of the writ of liberty occurred, and I presume that such of them as did not die in jail remained there until the fall of Richmond into the hands of the Federal forces."

and against his

chief officers.

A REIGN OF TERROR.

These imprisonments were very far from being restricted to persons little known or in the humbler walks of life. Thus Mr. Botts, who for many years had been one of the most prominent men in political life in Virginia, says that he was arrested in March, 1862, sent to a filthy negro jail, and kept there in solitary confinement for eight weeks; not even a chair or table

Barbarities practiced upon them.

A REIGN OF TERROR.

CHAP. XLII.]

171

was furnished him; no one was permitted to speak to him. He adds "that more than one hundred and fifty persons were in like manner confined. Many of them were subsequently sent to Salisbury, in North Carolina, where some went crazy, and many died. In the Richmond Prison they had the naked floor for a pallet, a log of wood for a pillow, the ceiling for a blanket. At Salisbury it was still worse. They were exposed to all the weather-cold rains and burning suns alternately." "But the object was effected by my arrest and imprisonment and that of others. It effectually sealed every man's lips. All were afraid to express their opinions under the reign of terror and despotism that had been established in Richmond. Every man felt that his personal liberty and safety required silent submission to the tyranny of the Confederacy."

It was this Mr. Botts who first uttered that sentiment, which became eventually so current among the brave and much-enduring, the shoeless, ragged, famished, noble conscripts-"It's the rich man's war, and the poor man's fight."

Things were fast going from bad to worse in domestic life in the Confederacy. A clerk in the War

Deplorable condi

fairs

tion of domestic af- Office, in a diary of his family affairs, tells us: "The shadow of gaunt Famine is upon us. All the patriotism is in the army; out of it the demon Avarice rages supreme. Every one is mad with speculation." By the middle of November, 1862, salt was selling in Richmond at more than a dollar a pound; boots at fifty dollars a pair; clothing was almost unattainable. The city was full of accusations, of speculations, extortion, cheating the government. It was found, from an examination of the accounts of disbursing agents, that nearly seventy millions of dollars were not accounted for. The remorseless pressure of the blockade had reached the re

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