« PreviousContinue »
Since the commencement of the war the North had had almost exclusive access to the ear of the world, and had poured into it whatever of slander or of misrepresentation human in. genuity could suggest. This circumstance, which was at first thought to be a great disadvantage to us, had not only proved a harmless annoyance, but had resulted in invaluable benefit. It had secured sympathy for us; it had excited the inquiries of the intelligent, who, after all, give the law to public opinion; and it had naturally tempted the North to such lying and bravado as to disgust the world.
At the beginning of the war the North had assured the world that the people of the South were a sensual and barbarous people, demoralized by their institution of slavery, and depraved by self-will and licentiousness below the capacity for administrative government. The best reply to these slanders, was our conduct in this war. Even the little that was known in Europe of the patriotic devotion, the dignity and cultivated humanity of the people of the South, as shown in the war, had been sufficient to win unbounded encomiums for them. We had not only withstood for nearly two years a power which had put thirteen hundred thousand men in the field; but we had shown that we were a people able in public affairs, resolute, brave, and prudent.
personal property and their valuable domestic slave servants. The furniture was left untouched in the houses. These houses were owned by the Barnwells, the Rhetts, the Cuthberts, the Phillipses, and other distinguished families of North Carolina. The elegant furniture, the libraries, the works of art, had nearly all disappeared. They had been sent North from time to time by Yankee officers, and many of these officers of high rank. The elegant dwelling-houses had been converted into barracks, negro quarters, hospitals, and storehouses. The best houses had been put in complete order, and were occupied by the officers of the department and the abolitionist missionaries from Boston and elsewhere. The efforts of these missionaries to teach the negroes their letters and habits of cleanliness met with no success. Beaufort was full of negroes, well clothed, at government expense, fat, saucy, and lazy. The town looked dirty and disorderly, and had the appearance of a second-class Mexican village. Some of the missionaries had been elevated to the position of planters, and occupied the estates of the old Carolinians. The labor on these estates was performed by contraband negroes. These abolition lords assumed all the hauteur and dignity of the Southern planter. The only difference to the black laborer was that he had the name of freeman ; his labor was as unrelenting as ever. Massachusetts missionaries and Massachusetts speculators enjoyed the larger share of government patronage here. The department of Hunter af peared to be experimenting in attempts to elevate a negro to equality with the white man. Military operations were secondary considerations
Another characteristic Yankee misrepresentation, made to the world about this time on the subject of the war, was, that it was to be concluded at an early day by the force of destitution and suffering in the South. The delusion of conquering the “rebels” by famine easily caught the vulgar ear. The North made it a point to exaggerate and garble every thing it could find in Southern newspapers, of the ragged condition of our armies, the high prices of the necessaries of life, and the hardships of the war. The Yankees were pleasantly entertained with stories of our suffering. Their pictorials were adorned with caricatures of “secesh" in skeleton soldiers and gaunt cavalrymen with spurs strapped to their naked heels. Their perfumed fops and dainty ladies had the fashion of tittering at the rags of our prisoners. They had an overwhelming sense of the ludicrous in the idea of Southern women cutting up the carpets in their houses to serve for blankets and garments for the soldiers.
The fact was that our sufferings were great; but their mute eloquence, which the enemy misinterpreted as a prospect of craven submission, was truly the sign of self-devotion. What. ever was suffered in physical destitution was not to be regret ted. It practised our people in self-denial; it purified their spirit; it brought ont troops of virtues ; it ennobled our women with offices of charity; it gave us new bonds of sympathy and love, and it trained ns in those qualities which enake a nation great and truly independent.
In the whirl of passing events, many strange things were daily happening around us that at a remoter periud of history will read like romance. The directions of our industry were changed. Planters raised corn and potatoes, fattened hogs and cultivated garden vegetables, while cotton was by universal consent neglected. Our newspapers were of all sizes and colors, sometimes containing four pages, sometimes two, and not a few were printed on common brown wrapping paper. Politics were dead. A political enemy was a curiosity only read of in the records of the past. Our amusements had been revolutionized. Outside of Richmond, a theatre was remem. bered only as an institution of by-gone times. Most of our people did their own playing and their own singing; and the ladies spent the mornings in sewing coarse shirts or pantaloons for the soldiers to wear, and sung in public at night to gain n'oney for the soldiers' equipments.
The footprints of the 'enemy, in Virginia especially, had marked lines of desolation such as history seldom records. Starting from Fortress Monroe and running westward to Winchester, scarcely a house within fifty miles of the Potomac but bore evidence of Yankee greed and spoliation. In nearly every county the court-house in which the assizes for each county used to be held, was rudely demolished, doors and windows torn down; while within, upon the white walls in every phase of handwriting, were recorded the autographs of the vandals, whose handiwork surrounded the beholder.
While the people of the South suffered, the resources of the country were developed by harsh necessity; and about the period where our narrative reaches, we are called upon to notice that happy change in the administration of our government, in which short-sighted expectations of peace were replated by the policy of provision and an amassment of stores for a war of indefinite duration. Measures were adopted to afford adequate supplies of ordnance, arms, and munitions for the army. Of small-arıs the supply was more adequate to the regiments of the army than at any other time. They had increased from importation and capture not less than eighty thousand. Establishments for making ordnance were founded in different parts of the South; a nitre corps was organized for service; and former dread of deficiency of the munitions of war no longer existed. The manufacturing resources of the country, especially in iron, were liberally patronized by the government, by large advances and liberal contracts; but in this the public service met great embarrassment from the temptations con stantly offered to contractors to prefer the superior profits which they could command by supplying the general market. The quartermaster's department was under the direction of Gen. Myers, of South Carolina, whose contributions to the cause of the South, in the zeal and ability which he brought into his important office, must take a high rank in all the histories of
He contended against the great obstacles of the blockade, the difficulties of railroad transportation, and the constant losses in the enemy's ravages of the country, and performed wonders under the most unfavorable circumstances. Woollens and leather were imported from Europe through trains of difficulties, the most devoted exertions were made to replenish the scant supplies of blankets and shoes in the army, and by using to the utmost our internal resources, by the establishment of factories and the organization of workshops ; and by greater economy in the use of our supplies, the sufferings of our soldiers were alleviated and their zeal refreshed for the campaign.
The Heroism of Virginia.-Her Battle-fields.-Burnside's Plan of Campaign.Calculations of his Movement upon Fredericksburg.-Failure to gurprise Gen. Lee.THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG.-The Enemy crossing the River.-Their Bombardment of the Town.-Scenes of Distress.-The Battle on the Right Wing.-The Story of Marye's Heights.-Repulse of the Enemy.-The old Lesson of barren Victory.Death of Gen. Cobb.-Death of Gen. Gregg.-Romance of the Story of Fredericksburg. Her noble Women.-Yankee Sacking of the Town.-A Specimen of Yankee Warfare in North Carolina.-Designs of the Enemy in this State.-The Engagements of Kinston.-Glance at other Theatres of the War.-Gen. Hindman's Victory at Prairie Grove.-Achievements of our Cavalry in the West.-The Affair of Hartsville.-Col. Clarkson's Expedition.-Condition of Events at the Close of the Year 1862.
VIRGINIA had borne the brunt of the war. Nearly twothirds of her territory had been overrun by the enemy, and her richest fields had been drenched with blood or marked by the scars of the invader. The patriotic spirit and the chivalrous endurance of this ancient and admirable commonwealth had not only supported these losses and afflictions without a murmur, but these experiences of the war were the sources of new inspiration, and the occasions of renewed resolution and the reinforcement of courage by the sentiment of devotion. When we add to the consideration of the grand spirit of this State the circumstances that the flower of the Confederate army was naturally collected on this the most critical theatre of the war, and that the operations in Virginia were assisted by the immediate presence of the government, we shall naturally look here for the most brilliant and decisive successes of the war.
When the Confederate army fell back into Virginia, after its short but eventful campaign in Maryland, Gen. Lee, by the skilful disposition of his forces in front of Winchester, rendered it impracticable for McClellan to invade the Valley of the Shenandoah, and forced him to adopt the route on the east side of the Blue Ridge. The Federal commander accepted this alternative the more readily, since he hoped, by an ostentatious display of a part of his forces near Shepherdstown, to deceive Gen. Lee and gain his flank and rear at Wonton.