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THE CONGRESS AT RICHMOND.
cation of peace; and the same amount in bonds, bearing eight per cent. interest, and payable in twenty years; the imposition of a war tax of half of one per cent. on all real and personal property, including slaves, but excepting persons whose property was less than four hundred dollars. It authorized the seizure of all telegraphic lines; the appointment by the President of agents to supervise all communications passing over them; the forbidding of communications in cipher, or such as were of an enig matical character; the banishment of all alien enemies; the confiscation of their property, with the exception of debts due to them from the Confederacy or a confederated state. Every male thus liable to banishment, if above fourteen years of age, was required to leave the Confederacy within forty days; if he lingered beyond that time he was to be imprisoned, and then removed; if he returned, he was to be dealt with as a spy or prisoner of war. In retaliation for the Confiscation Act of the United States, measures of the strictest kind for the discovery of property of alien enemies were enacted. Every citizen in the Confederacy was required to tell all he knew about such matters, and that voluntarily, and without being specially interrogated. Should he fail of this, he was to be held guilty of a misdemeanor, to be fined not more than $5000, imprisoned not more than six months, and be liable to pay double the value of the property in question. It was anticipated that these measures would bring three hundred millions of dollars into the Confederate treasury. That result, however, was not attained. The Sequestration Bill was passed on August 6th, 1861, and the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury reported that, up to September 30th, 1863, the treasury had received from sequestration less than two millions of dollars ($1,862,650).
In this, its first session at Richmond, an act was also
THE PERMANENT CONGRESS.
passed directing the form under which evidence should be taken respecting abducted slaves, with a view to the exaction of indemnity subsequently from the United States; and an act to aid the State of Missouri in repelling invasion. The adjournment was to the 18th of November.
From the beginning the Confederate government had constituted itself a Committee of Public
of the Confederate Safety. No committee in the French Revolution was more vindictive, more terrible in its acts. In its eyes neutrality was the highest crime. Nothing was sacred; nothing was spared that stood between it and its purposes.
The session commencing on the 18th of November provided for the increase of the naval force and the enlistment of 2000 seamen. It made appropriations of sixty millions for the army and four millions for the navy; but all its important measures were transacted in secret.
Session of the 18th of November.
The permanent Congress succeeded the provisional on the 18th of February, 1862. Mr. Davis was inaugurated as permanent President four days subsequently. The day was very rainy, and the festivities, as described by an eye-witness, lugubrious. "The permanent government had its birth in a storm."
The state of the army was the first object of the attention of Congress. The sessions were for the ing the army most part secret. In his message the President had said, “Events have demonstrated that the government has attempted more than it had the power successfully to achieve. Hence, in the effort to protect by our arms the whole territory of the Confederate States, sea-board and inland, we have been so exposed as recently to suffer great disasters." But, in truth, it was not the diffusion of the military force that gave disquiet; it was
the too plainly recognized decline of the military spirit that caused the alarm. The term of those soldiers who had enlisted for a year was about to expire. They had found, by fearful experience, that each Southerner was not equal to five Yankees. The first enthusiasm had altogether died out. The delusion that there would be no war had passed away. Every one now knew that there would be a long and dreadful war, and that instead of pageantry and pomp there would be hardships, mutilation, and death.
The want of military success to which Davis alluded and the conduct of was attributed by many to the faulty manner in which the war was carried on. There was a clamor that the Confederacy, instead of remaining on the defensive, should throw its armies into the enemy's country. Scarcely had the session opened when a resolution (February 20th) was offered to that effect, and complaint made that some one was imposing defensive war on the country. A bill was reported to indemnify owners of cotton, tobacco, and other produce destroyed to prevent its capture by the enemy. The Senate adopted a resolution (February 27th) to the effect that no peace propositions should be entertained which surrendered any portion of the Confederate States, and that war must be continued until the enemy was expelled from Confederate territory. In the House a resolution was passed advising the non-cultivation of cotton and tobacco, and the raising of provisions in their stead. After the disaster of Fort Donelson, a message was received from the President to the effect that he had suspended Generals Floyd and Pillow; the former officer was, however, subsequently reinstated at the request of the Legislature of Virginia. A remorseless conscription law was now (April 16th) passed. It annulled all previous contracts with volunteers; it took every man between the
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 Confederacy: 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.
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.
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 CONSCRIPT SOLDIERS.
crastinated independence and disappointment were breaking the spirit of the South. Compulsion must take what enthusiasm could no longer give. The product of the first conscription bill was being fast devoured by cannon, or melting away with fearful rapidity in the hospitals. Another conscription was actually enacted in the following year. It demanded all men between eighteen and fortyfive years of age, except those legally exempted. They were ordered by proclamation to repair voluntarily to the conscript camps. They were to be punished as deserters if they did not comply. Troops from the same state were brigaded together-a last, a grim recognition of state rights.
Torn from their firesides, deported from their native The conscript sol- states, these conscripts formed that incomparable infantry which the South will never remember without affectionate emotion, and whose mili tary deeds the North will never recall without a secret pride. A lady-an eye-witness-writing to a friend about the prisoners who were taken at Shiloh, and brought to Camp Douglas at Chicago, says: "But I have not told you how awfully they were dressed. They had old carpets, new carpets, rag carpets, old bed-quilts, new bedquilts, and ladies' quilts for blankets. They had slouch hats, children's hats, little girls' hats, but not one soldier had a soldier's cap on his head. One man had two old hats tied to his feet instead of shoes. They were the most ragged, torn, and worn, and weary-looking set I ever saw. Every one felt sorry for them, and no one was dis posed to speak unkindly to them." Yet this was that infantry that magnificent infantry, which had nearly wrenched victory from Grant on the blood-stained field of Shiloh. It had faced, without flinching, famine, nakedness, the hospital, and the sword. Would to God that it had had a different enemy and a different cause!