My Melancholy Duty

Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart.

And, sir, what is our state of preparation?  Where is our ordnance?  Where is our musketry?  Where are our rifles?  Where, in fact, are any of the munitions of war, which are indispensable for our security?  Sir, you may talk about courage, and you may talk about chivalry; but I say it is not true courage and true chivalry to rush into such an unequal contest as that.  I say, in my judgment it would be folly and fool-hardiness in the extreme.  What is the condition of our Treasury?  Let me tell you, sir; because it has been my melancholy duty to make myself familiar with it, being a member of the Senate of Virginia, and having occasion to examine the financial condition of the State.  I tell you, you are bankrupt.  In order to raise the money to buy a few arms, you were obliged to resort to the miserable expedient of attempting to issue one million of treasury notes.  There is no money in your treasury; your credit is gone; your bonds are selling now, as some gentleman remarked, at some sixty dollars.  Even the munitions which are to be bought under the operation of this treasury note bill, have not yet been supplied.  Intimations have been given that the Governor has made a contract, and that there is some misunderstanding in regard to a portion of it.  But, sir, all must concur that we are not in a condition to go to war, and I say that it is the part of common prudence, common sense and humanity, that we should not engage in war until we shall have prepared ourselves for the conflict.

— Mr. A. H. H. Stuart of Augusta, first day of the Secret Session of the Virginia Secession Convention, Tuesday, 16 April, 1861.

A Perpetual Sermon

Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk.

Upon the day appointed — being, by a happy coincidence, the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle — the local military force of Augusta, consisting of one full regiment of infantry, a battery of light artillery, and a company of cavalry, was drawn up on Telfair St., in the rear of the City Hall, at half-past nine o’clock, A. M.  The case enclosing the remains was brought and placed within the hearse by soldiers detailed for the purpose.  The hearse was draped in the flag of the Confederate States, with its broad folds of white and its starry cross of Trust and Truth upon a field of blood, and surmounted with wreaths of bay and laurel, and a cross of evergreen and snow-white flowers.

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Leonidas Polk, Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana and General in the Army of the Confederate States.

Who can estimate the influence of such an act as that of our brother upon the cause which is so vital to every one of us? What could invest it with a higher moral grandeur than that a bishop of the Church of God should gird on the sword to do battle for it?  A faction of the Northern Church pretended — some of them engaged in acts infinitely more derogatory to the glory of Christ’s Church — to be shocked at it; but it, nevertheless, filled them with dismay.  They saw in it an intensity of feeling and of purpose at which they trembled, and when they found no echo of their pious horror from the Church of England, they ceased their idle clamor.  And our brother thus became, before even he had drawn his sword, a tower of strength to the Confederacy.  And who can say how much of the religious influence, which has diffused itself so remarkably among the officers of the army of the West may not have reached their hearts through the silent power of his example and his prayers!  Bishop Polk did not think the public exercise of his ministry a proper accompaniment of his military career, and in that I think he acted most wisely; but his dignified and irreproachable life was a perpetual sermon, and his private communion with God was his spiritual power.  It is a very striking fact that every officer of high rank in that army — the army which, in the language of Gen. Johnston, he created, and had always commanded — has become a professed disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus; and that the last act of our warrior-bishop was the admission into the Church of his Saviour and Redeemer, through the holy sacrament of baptism, of two of its most renowned commanders.  He lived long enough to see Christ recognized in its councils of war; and, his work on earth being done, he obeyed the summons of his Master, and passing away from earth, his mantle rests upon it.

— Funeral Address for General Leonidas Polk, Feast of St. Peter, 1864.