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CHAPTER XI.

The last address and appeal of the Confederate Congress.--The war in a geographical point of view.--THE CONFEDERATE CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT DAVIS.-THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS.-A sharp recrimination.--A committee of the Senate reply to President Davis.-Maladministration in the War Department.-Two-thirds of the Confederate Army absentees.--Lee loses nearly half his army by desertions.-The other half threatened with starvation.-Ample supply of food in the country.— The fault in the Commissary Department.--Commissary Northrop a "pepper-dootor" as the favorite of Davis.-Analysis of President Davis' character for firmness. -How Northrop starved Richmond.-HISTORY OF THE CONFEDERATE COMMISSARIAT.-Secret testimony in Congress.-President Davis' refusal to trade cotton for meat.-Persistent delusion about “king cotton."-Venality of the enemy.-Davis takes no advantage of it.-Record of the rations in Lee's army.-Startling statistics. Attempts to get meat from Europe.-General Lee's army without meat.-His telegram to President Davis.-The necessities of the Commissary Department summed up in secret session of Congress.--But little done to meet them.-How the cause of the Confederacy would have failed without a catastrophe of arms.--The military narrative resumed.-MILITARY EVENTS IN VIRGINIA IN THE WINTER OF 1864-5.-SHERIDAN'S RAID.-Thirteen counties traversed.-Amount of destruction accomplished by the enemy.-THE RICHMOND LINES.-HATCHER'S RUN.-Extension of Grant's line.-BATTLE OF HARES HILL.--Gallantry of Gordon's command.-Vigor and brilliancy of the fighting of the Confederates.--No decisive results.

On the occasion of what was to be its final adjournment, Congress published an address to the people of the Confederate States. It was more prolix than other documents of this sort. But it contained one just and admirable reflection, to which we have already referred in the pages of the preceding chapter. It said: "The extent of our territory, the food-producing capacity of our soil, the amount and character of our population, are elements of strength which, carefully husbanded and wisely employed, are amply sufficient to insure our final triumph. The passage of hostile armies through our country, though productive of cruel suffering to our people, and great pecuniary loss, gives the enemy no permanent advantage or foothold. To subjugate a country, its civil government must be suppressed by a continuing military force, or supplanted by another, to which the inhabitants yield a voluntary or forced

obedience. The passage of hostile armies through our territory cannot produce this result. Permanent garrisons would have to be stationed at a sufficient number of points to strangle all civil government before it could be pretended, even by the United States Government itself, that its authority was extended over these States. How many garrisons would it require? How many hundred thousand soldiers would suffice to suppress the civil government of all the States of the Confederacy, and to establish over them, even in name and form, the authority of the United States? In a geographical point of view, therefore, it may be asserted that the conquest of these Confederate States is impracticable.”

THE CONFEDERATE CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT DAVIS. THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS.

The last Confederate Congress concluded with a sharp recrimination between it and President Davis as to the responsibility for the low state to which the public defence had lapsed. The President had charged, in a public message, that the measures of Congress for recruiting the army were insufficient, and that it had generally neglected to supply the urgent need of men and supplies for the army.

A committee of the Senate made an elaborate`reply to this accusation. It declared that all the measures recommended by the President, to promote the efficiency of the army, had been adopted, except the entire repeal of class exemption; and that some measures not suggested by him-such as the creation of general-in-chief-were originated and passed by Congress, with a view to the restoration of public confidence and the energetic administration of military affairs.

The committee retorted upon the executive the charge that by a system of details, in which corruption and favor were dominant, the Conscription Law had been robbed of its legiti mate fruits, and the army enfeebled. They said that in remarkable contrast to the number of persons relieved from military service by the exemptions enacted by Congress, the report of the Conscript Bureau exhibited the fact, that east of the Mississippi River, twenty-two thousand and thirty-five men

in the summer of 1864, before the fall of Atlanta, has its ap plication to the times of which we are now writing. That movement was simply the result of a conviction, not that the South was about to accomplish a positive triumph, but that she was able to endure the war much longer than had been expected, and yet had not reached that point of confidence where she would not be likely to make valuable concessions to the North for the early and graceful acknowledgment of her independence. That acknowledgment the North was then on the eve of making under certain disguises, it is true, of party convenience, but none the less certainly because it sought decent excuse for the act. The Democratic party was then well nigh a unit on the subject of peace. "Burn my letter,' wrote a distinguished politician of New England to a Confederate then in New York; "but when you get to Richmond, hasten to President Davis, and tell him the Chicago Convention means peace, and nothing but peace." It was the military events which followed that interrupted this resolution, and showed how little there was of principle or of virtuous intention in Yankee parties; and with the fall of Atlanta, Savannah, Wilmington, and Charleston, and Sherman's campaign of magnificent distances, the Northern mind had again become inflamed with the fervor of new hopes, and clamored for unconditional war, when it thought that it was in the last stages of success.

Yet in face of this clamor it was plain enough that if the Confederates could ever regain substantially nothing more than the status quo of seven months ago; if they could ever present to the North the same prospect of a long war as they did then, and put before them the weary task of overcoming the fortitude of a brave people, they would have peace and independence in their grasp. It was a vulgar mistake that to accomplish our success in this war we had to retrieve all of the past and recover by arms all the separate pieces of our territory. It was to be remembered that we were fighting on the defensive, and had only to convince the enemy that we were able to protect the vital points of our country to compel him to a peace in which all was surrendered that he had overrun, and all the country that he held by the worthless title of invasion, would fall from him as by the law of gravitation.

It may be said briefly that if the Confederates could only regain the situation of the last summer, or even if they would ́ only give a proof to the enemy that they were not at the extremity of their resources, or at the last limits of resolutionthat they were able and determined to fight the war indefinitely they had then accomplished the important and vital conditions of peace. Nor was the first impossible-to recover substantially, in all important respects, the losses of the past few months, and even add to the status quo of last summer new elements of advantage for us. To defeat Sherinan at any stage short of Richmond would be to reopen and recover all the country he had overrun. If the enemy was left in possession of the seaports, these had but little value to us as ports of entry, and were but picket-posts in our system of defences. Sherman's campaign clearly came to naught if he could not reach Grant-nothing left of it but the brilliant zig-zag of a raid vanishing as heat lightning in the skies. The consequences of Sherman's misadventure would be obvious enough. Grant's army, without the looked-for aid from the Carolinas, was by no means certain of the capture of Richmond. It was true that Grant was within a few miles of the Confederate capital, when the same time last year he was on the Rapidan. But that was a fool's measure of danger, for in each case we had the same army shielding Richmond, and whether that shield was broken ten or one hundred miles away was of no importance to the interest it covered.

There was nothing really desperate in the military situation of the Confederacy, unless to fools and cowards who drew lines on paper to show how the Yankees were at this place and at that place, and thought that this cob-web occupation of the country, where the enemy had no garrisons and no footholds, indicated the extent of Yankee conquest and gave the true measure of the remnant of the Confederacy! And yet this was too much the popular fashion of the time in estimating the military situation. Men were drawing for themselves pictures of despair out of what were, to those who thought profoundly and bravely, no more important than the passages of the hour. It is not to be disguised that the condition of the Confederacy was demoralized in the extreme, and that it was difficult to reorganize, as the patriots of 1861, men who were now exclaim

ing everywhere their despair, and counselling embassies of submission.*

Briefly, if the fatal facts in the condition of the Confede

* In March, 1865, the author printed an address in the Richmond newspapers, of which the following was the concluding portion. The occasion and spirit of this address are significant enough of what was taking place in Richmond at that time:

"I am determined to express the truth, no matter how painful to myself or unwelcome to others. In the first period of this war who was not proud of the Confederacy and its heroic figure in history! Yet now it is to be confessed that a large portion of our people have fallen below the standards of history, and hold no honorable comparison with other nations that have fought and struggled for independence. It is easy for the tongue of the demagogue to trip with flattery on the theme of the war; but when we come to the counsels of the intelligent the truth must be told. We are no longer responding to the lessons and aspirations of history. You speak of the scarcity of subsistence. But Prussia, in her wars, drained her supplies until black bread was the only thing eat in the king's palace; and yet, under Frederick, she won not only her independence, but a position among the five great powers of Europe. You speak of the scarcity of men. Yet with a force not greater than that with which we have only to hold an invaded country and maintain the defensive, Napoleon fought his splendid career, and completed a circle of victories that touched the boundaries of Europe.

"It is enough to sicken the heart with shame and vexation that now, when, of all times, it is most important to convince the enemy of our resolutionnow, when such a course, for peculiar reasons, will insure our success—there are men who not only whine on the streets about making terms with the enemy, but intrude their cowardice into the official places of the Government, and, sheltered by secret sessions and confidential conversations, roll the word ' reconstruction' under the tongue. Shame upon the Congress that closed its doors that it might better consult of dishonorable things! Shame upon those leaders who should encourage the people, and yet have broken down their confidence by private conversations; and who, while putting in newspapers some cheap words of patriotism, yet in the same breath express their despair by a suspicious cant about trusting in Providence, and go off to talk submission with their intimates in a corner! Shame upon those of the people who have now no other feeling in the war than an exasperated selfishness! who are ready to sink, if they can carry down in their hands some little trash of property! who will give their sons to the army, but not their precious negro slaves! who are for hurrying off embassies to the enemy to know at what price of dishonor they may purchase some paltry remnants of their posses sions! Do these men ever think of the retributions of history?

"When Cato the Younger was pursued to Utica by the victorious arms of Cæsar, Plutarch relates of him on this occasion certain conversations and senti ments which singularly apply to our own condition in a besieged city, and may almost be taken as repeated in the streets of Richmond:

"One of the Council,' writes Plutarch, 'observed the expediency of a decree for enfranchising the slaves, and many commended the motion. Cato,

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