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On the 21st of April Congress adjourned to the third The August session Monday in August. When it met (August 18th), the condition of the army was a subject of deep concern. This was manifested by the fact that hardly had Congress entered on its duties when a resolution was offered inquiring into the expediency of compelling the Commissary Department to furnish more and better food to the soldiers. Much of the public legislation had immediate reference to questions arising from the war. Among war measures, bills were submitted for the treatment of captives; one to retaliate for the seizure of citizens; and one for the punishment of negroes in arms: it provided that Federal armies, incongruously composed of whites and blacks, should not be entitled to the privileges of war, or to be taken prisoners; the negroes, if captured, to be returned to their masters, or publicly sold; their commanders to be hanged or shot, as might be most convenient. Another bill was introduced declaring that Federal soldiers taken with counterfeit Confederate notes in their possession should be put to death. When Lincoln's proclamation of September 22d respecting slavery was received, retaliatory measures were at once contemplated. It was proposed that every man taken in arms against the Confederacy, upon its soil, should be put to death, and that the black flag should be hoisted. These motions were disposed of on the last day of the session by a resolution declaring that Congress would sustain any retaliatory measures which the President might adopt.
There was a growing, an irrepressible dissatisfaction with the management of the armies, an inthe state of affairs. cessant demand to carry the war into the enemy's country. "If," said a member from South Carolina, "you will give Stonewall Jackson half our armies, he will drive the whole 600,000 of the enemy into the Northern States."
Its various war measures.
THE AUGUST SESSION.
It must not be supposed that Davis, and those who acted with him, carried their measures without 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 es tates 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 moving 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.
Opposition to the
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 secession." 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; an other died of a broken heart.
Decline of the influence of Davis.
Neglect of the leaders of the movement.
"He has notions of imperial greatness;" "his head is Accusations 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 unhap py 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 action praying for abundant success."
and against his
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 mil itary 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."
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 sanotion 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."
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 polit ical 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.
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 Salis bury 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 Rich mond. 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."
A REIGN OF TERROR.
Things were fast going from bad to worse in domestic life in the Confederacy. A clerk in the War
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