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party approached the discussion rather indirectly, and at no time did they make categorical demands, or tender formal stipulations or absolute refusals; nevertheless, during the conference, which lasted four hours, the several points at issue between the Government and the insurgents were distinctly raised and discussed fully, intelligently, and in an amicable spirit. What the insurgent party seemed chiefly to favor was a postponement of the question of separation upon which the war was waged, and a mutual direction of the efforts of the Government, as well as those of the insurgents, to some extraneous policy or scheme for a season, during which passions might be expected to subside, and the armies be reduced, and trade and intercourse between the people of both sections be resumed." The proposition which looked to an armistice or truce was distinctly answered by Mr. Lincoln, who stated that he would agree to no cessation or suspension of hostilities unless on the basis of the disbandment of the Confederate forces. There were no notes of the conference. There was no attendance of clerks or secretaries; and nothing was written or read. But the result of the whole conversation, which was earnest and free, may be summarily stated to have shown that the enemy refused to enter into negotiations with the Confederate States, or any of them separately, or give to their people any other terms or guarantees than those which Congress might grant; or to permit the Southern people to have a vote on any other basis than unconditional submission to their rule, coupled with the acceptance of the recent legislation at Washington, including an amendment to the Constitution for the emancipation of all negro slaves.

The failure of the Fortress Monroe commission was made the occasion in the South of a new attempt to rally the spirit of its people, and to infuse into the war a new element of desperate passion. The people were told that the result of the conference at Fortress Monroe showed plainly enough that every avenue to peace was closed, except such as might be carved out by the sword. It was calculated ingeniously enough that the party in the South which had so long clamored for negotiations with Washington would now abandon its visions of reconciliation and generosity, and give in their adhesion to a renewed and even desperate prosecution of the war.

These expectations were not realized. The attempt to raise the drooping spirits of the South, and to introduce, as some of the public men in Richmond fondly imagined, a new era of resolution and devotion in the war, shamefully failed. The Fortress Monroe affair produced in the Confederacy a feeble flare of excitement which was soon extinguished. A massmeeting was called at the African church in Richmond, that the people might renew their testimony of devotion to the Confederacy. The meeting was held at high noon; all business in the city of Richmond was suspended, as if to give extraordinary solemnity to the occasion; fiery addresses were made, and tokens of enthusiasm were said in the newspapers to have been abundant. But speeches and hurrahs are cheap things. The public mind of the South made but a sickly response to what was undoubtedly, in all its circumstances, one of the most powerful appeals ever calculated to stir the heart and nerve the resolution of a people fighting for liberty; and in its relapse into the abject and timid counsels of the submissionists, exhibited a want of spirit which, it must be confessed, must ever make a painful and humiliating page in the history of the Confederacy.

Mr. Davis also spoke at the African church. He did not omit the occasion of exhorting the people. But he unfortunately fell into that style of boastful prediction and bombastic speech which was characteristic of all his public addresses; which was evidence of his weak mind; and which furnished the grave ground of accusation against him that in his public declarations he never dealt with the people in a proper spirit of candor. He declared that the military affairs of the Confederacy were in excellent condition; he hinted at great victories which were about to be accomplished; he boasted that "Sherman's march through Georgia would be his last;" he completed his rhetorical flourish with the strange prediction that before the summer solstice fell upon the country it would be the Yankees who would be asking for terms of peace and the grace of conferences in which the Confederates might make known their demands.

But in this unfortunate address of the President there was one just and remarkable sentiment. He referred to the judg meut of history upon Kossuth, who had been so weak as to

abandon the cause of Hungary with an army of thirty thousand men in the field; and spoke of the disgrace of surrender, if the Confederates should abandon their cause with an ariny on our side and actually in the field more numerous than those which had made the most brilliant pages in European history; an army more numerous than that with which Napoleon achieved his reputation; an army standing among its homesteads; an army in which each individual man was superior in every martial quality to each individual man in the ranks of the invader, and reared with ideas of independence, and in the habits of command!

It was very clear that, the Confederacy was very far from the historical necessity of subjugation. But it was at any time near the catastrophe of a panic. If the cause was to be lost, it was to be so by weak despair; by the cowardice of suicide; by the distress of weak minds.


A measure indicative of the desperate condition of the Southern mind was that to extend the conscription to the slaves. A proposition to arm the negroes of the South, and use them as soldiers in the Confederate Army, had been debated in the Richmond press as early as the fall of 1864. It was favored by General Lee, but variously received by the general public. There were many persons who argued that the negro might be effectively used in this new department of service; that mili tary experience had shown that a soldier could be made of any thing that had arms and legs; that the United States had formerly recruited its regular army from the dregs of humanity; that the experience of the North with the negro had shown him to be a serviceable soldier; and that the South could offer him superior inducements to good service, by making him a freeman in his own home, and could give him officers who could better understand his nature, and better prompt his good qualities, than his Yankee military taskmasters. These views were encouraged by General Lee. Indeed, this distinguished officer made no secret of his opinion, that the military service of the slave should be secured on the basis of

general emancipation; arguing, with no little ingenuity, that the institution of slavery had been so shaken by the invasions and raids of the enemy, which had penetrated every portion. of the country, that its practical value had become but a small consideration in view of the insecure tenure of the property; that it might, eventually, be broken up if the war continued; and that, by a decree of emancipation, the South might make a virtue of necessity, remove a cause of estrangement, however unjust, between it and the Christian world, and possibly neutralize that large party in the North, whose sympathy and interest in the war were mainly employed with the negro.

The question divided the country. The slaveholding interest, in its usual narrow spirit-in its old character of a greedy, vulgar, insolent aristocracy-took the alarm, and in Congress and in the newspapers, proclaimed that the use of negroes as soldiers was the entering wedge of Abolition; that it would stultify the whole cause of the Confederacy; that it would give up what they falsely imagined to be the leading object of the war-the protection of the interests of less than a quarter of a million of people who owned slaves in the South. The Charleston Mercury declared that if the slaves were armed, South Carolina could no longer have any interest in prosecuting the war.

But beyond the opposition of the slaveholders and the cotton aristocrats, there were many intelligent men in the South who seriously doubted both the capacity and fidelity of the negro as a Confederate soldier. General Lee and many of his distinguished officers were not among these.

A majority of the Confederate Army were probably in favor of the experiment of negro soldiers; and many who doubted their efficiency at the front were persuaded that they might be made useful in other parts of the military field. General Ewell, who commanded in the Department of Henrico, declared that the employment of the negroes in the trenches, around Richmond, would relieve fifteen thousand white soldiers, who might be used on the enemy's front, and thus make an important accession to our forces actually in the field.

The action of the Confederate Congress with reference to the military employment of the negro was characteristic of that body. The subject was debated threadbare, discussed

and dissected in open and secret session; but no practical action could be obtained on the matter, but what was too late in respect of time, and absurdly small with reference to the measure of the necessities by which legislation on the subject had been invoked.

Congress took no action on the subject until at the heel of its session. A bill was passed on the 7th of March authorizing the President to ask and accept from the owners of negro slaves as many able-bodied negroes as he might deem expedient, to perform military service in any capacity he might direct, and providing that nothing in the act should be construed to alter the existing relation between master and slaves.

The entire results of this ridiculously small and visionary legislation, which proposed to obtain negro soldiers from such. volunteers as their masters might patriotically dedicate to the Confederate service, and was ominously silent on the subject of their freedom, were two fancy companies raised in the city of Richmond, who were allowed to give balls at the Libby, and to parade in Capitol Square, and were scarcely intended to be more than decoys to obtain sable recruits. But they served not even this purpose. The measure passed by Congress may be taken, indeed, as an indication of that vague desperation in the Confederacy which caught at straws, and had not nerve enough to make a practical and persistent effort at safety.

The Congress of the Confederate States was a weak, spasmodic body. There was no organization of opinion in it; no leaders; plenty of idle debate, capricious measures, weak recrimination, and but little of the sense and order of legislative assemblies. It went in and out of secret session almost every twenty-four hours; it was fruitful of propositions without results; and it finally adjourned on the 18th of March, after a session of four months, in which it had failed to enact any effective measure to recruit the army, to improve the finances, to mobilize the subsistence of the country, or, in fact, to serve one single important interest in the Confederacy.

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