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CHAPTER XI.

The last addross and appeal of the Confederate Congress.--The war in a geographical

poini 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-doctor" as the favorite of Davis.-- Analysis of President Davis' character for firmness. -How Northrop starved Richmond.-HISTORY OF THE CONFEDERATE COMMI89ARIAT.--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 telegrain 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 fuiled 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 snbjugate 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 EXEC

UTIVE 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 legitimate 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 had been detailed by executive authority. It was, they declared, in consequence of this abuse of the power of detail, that Congress had passed an act revoking all details, and limiting the exercise of that power in the future.

We shall not go at large into the merits of this recrimination between the Confederate Congress and the executive. Each, undoubtedly, had its share of responsibility for the general improvidence and mismanagement that had fatally involved the fortunes of the Confederacy. But the mal-administration in the War Department was even greater than Congress chose to indicate. From that department the confession had repeatedly gone forth, that two-thirds of our army were absentees; and yet nothing was done to enforce discipline or to punish desertions, and the morale of the Confederate Army was left entirely to the regulation of loose patriotic sentiment among those who composed it. No more forcible cominentary can be made on the feeble execution of the military laws of the Confederacy, and the omission of the most ordinary discipline in the army, than to state the simple and indisputable fact that in the winter of 1864–5 Lee lost nearly half his army by desertions alone.

And that half was frequently in a condition bordering on starvation. There was really no lack of supplies in the country. It is needless to go into details, or to adduce statistics in proof of this. It is obvious to every well-informed mind. Although the occupation by the enemy, and his rnthless policy of destroying the harvests, granaries, and agricultural implements of the people, wherever he moved, had, undoubtedly, diminished the amount of cereals in the South, still, in view of the fact that in every State of the Confederacy without exception, its agricultural labor had been devoted almost exclusively to the raising of breadstuffs (while before the war it was mainly devoted to the production of cotton, tobacco, and other exports), it was inpossible to doubt that there was ample supply of food in the country.

The fault was in the Commissary Department at Richmond; where a man flagrantly incompetent, appointed to the most important post in the country, on no other ground of selection than that many years ago he had been the college chum of the President, seemed busy for almost four years in bearing down

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all common sense and advice, practising the most ridiculous quackeries, and stilling the very life of the Confederacy.

It is a remarkable fact in history that many famous men who have prided themselves on their firmness and resolution in public affairs, and indeed have displayed these qualities to the generality of mankind, have yet been discovered to be under the dominion of the most paltry influences—in inany instances governed by women, court-jesters, and the smallest of favorites. Such an apparent contradiction of character was to be found in President Davis. He could brace his mind and set his face against Congressmen and counsellors generally. But he was absurdly uxorious; he was surrounded by adventurers and “confidence-men;" and some old West Point or Washington acquaintance might readily obtain his car and favor when they were denied to the first men of the Confederacy.

Commissary Northrop, whose profession Mr. Foote declared in Congress had been that of a “pepper doctor," was one of the small favorites of President Davis. This old man was an extraordinary combination of ignorance and obstinacy; and it was remarked of him that such was his perversity, that whenever advice or suggestion was offered to him, he instantly and invariably took the precisely opposite course.

Richmond was now almost destitute of supplies, through the mismanagement and conceit of this man. His latest fancy had been to prohibit to the general public the importation of any supplies whatever into the Confederate capital. The farmer could not bring a bushel of corn or a pound of meat into Richmond without running the gauntlet of impressment agents. Permits to get flour into Richmond were valued at high figures, and obtained only through special favors. The consequences of Mr. Northrop's folly were, that large stocks of supplies were kept at home in different parts of the interior of Virginia; that they were thus exposed to Yankee devastation, and, in time, became an easy prey of the enemy's raids. It was through such mismanagement that the rich harvests of the Shenandoah were lost to the Confederacy. There had been ample time to have gathered into Richmond at least a large portion of these rich and accessible supplies. Numerous persons had gone to Commissary Northrop with the proposition to bring into Richmond grain and flour from the Valley, and were willing to make the condition that any part of their stocks would be given up to the Government, whenever there was any occasion for it to encroach upon the private storehouses of Richmond. But Mr. Northrop closed the door to all such applications, and the commission houses and provision stores of Richmond were left almost empty; while the law of supply and demand was sending prices up far beyond the reach of the general customer.

HISTORY OF THE CONFEDERATE COMMISSARIAT.

In the last Congress of the Confederate States, a secret commission was appointed to investigate the affairs of the Commissary Department. There was thus obtained within closed doors a mass of testimony which covered the whole history of the commissariat, and contains, indeed, subjects of the greatest interest in the war. This testimony was never permitted to see the light in the Confederacy; probably because it so deeply involved President Davis and his associates in the charge of maladministration.

It appeared before the secret commission that as early as the second year of the war, the meat supplies of the Confederacy were discovered to be largely deficient. This became evident enough on the successive captures of Forts Donelson and Henry. The subsequent campaign lost us Kentucky and much of Tennessee, and left us comparatively bare of meat.

At this time a number of propositions were made to the Richmond authorities, by responsible parties, to exchange through the enemy's lines meat for cotton. One

whose ability to meet his engagements was never questioned, offered to deliver thirty thousand hogsheads of bacon through the lines in exchange for cotton. It was urged that there was enough cotton to feed and clothe our army, in a section tributary to Memphis—which city was then, and had been for some time previous, in the secure possession of the enemy; that such cotton must otherwise probably be destroyed, to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy; but that the owners, as a general rule, though willing to let the Government have

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