Difference of Spirit

During my voyage home in the China, I had an opportunity of discussing with many intelligent Northern gentlemen all that I had seen in my Southern travels. We did so in a very amicable spirit, and I think they rendered justice to my wish to explain to them without exaggeration the state of feeling amongst their enemies. Although these Northerners belonged to quite the upper classes, and were not likely to be led blindly by the absurd nonsense of the sensation press at New York, yet their ignorance of the state of the case in the South was very great.

The recent successes had given them the impression that the last card of the South was played. Charleston was about to fall; Mobile, Savannah and Wilmington would quickly follow; Lee’s army they thought, was a disheartened, disorganized mob; Bragg’s army in a still worse condition, fleeing before Rosecrans, who would carry every thing before him. They felt confident that the fall of the Mississippian fortresses would prevent communication from one bank to the other, and that the great river would soon be open to peaceful commerce.

All these illusions have since been dispelled, but they probably still cling to the idea of the great exhaustion of the Southern personnel.

But this difficulty of recruiting the Southern armies is not so great as is generally supposed. As I have already stated, no Confederate soldier is given his discharge from the army, however badly he may be wounded; but he is employed at such labor in the public service as he may be capable of performing, and his place in the ranks is taken by a sound man hitherto exempted. The slightly wounded are cured as quickly as possible, and are sent back at once to their regiments. The women take care of this. The number actually killed, or who die of their wounds, are the only total losses to the State, and these form but a small proportion of the enormous butcher’s bills which seem at first so very appalling.

I myself remember, with General Polk’s corps, a fine-looking man who had had both his hands blown off at the wrists by unskilful artillery-practice in one of the early battles. A currycomb and brush were fitted into his stumps, and he was engaged in grooming artillery-horses with considerable skill. This man was called an hostler; and, as the war drags on, the number of these handless hostlers will increase. By degrees the clerks at the offices, the orderlies, the railway and post-office officials, aud the stage-drivers, will be composed of maimed and mutilated soldiers. The number of exempted persons all over the South is still very large, and the can easily be exchanged for worn veterans. Besides this fund to draw upon, a calculation is made of the number of boys who arrive each year at the fighting age. These are all “panting for the rifle,” but have been latterly wisely forbidden the ranks until they are fit to undergo the hardships of a military life. By these means, it is the opinion of the Confederates that they can keep their armies recruited up to their present strength for several years; and, if the worst comes to the worst, they can always fall back upon their negroes as the last resort; but I do not think they contemplate such a necessity as likely to arise for a considerable time.

With respect to the supply of arms, cannon, powder, and military stores, the Confederates are under no alarm whatever. Augusta furnishes more than sufficient gunpowder; Atlanta, copper caps, &c. The Tredegar works at Richmond, and other foundries, cast more cannon than is wanted; and the Federal generals have always hitherto proved themselves the most indefatigable purveyors of artillery to the Confederate Government, for even in those actions which they claim as drawn battles or as victories, such as Corinth, Murfreesborough, and Gettysburg, they have never failed to make over cannon to the Southerners without exacting any in return.

My Northern friends on board the China spoke much and earnestly about the determination of the North to crush out the Rebellion at any sacrifice. But they did not show any disposition to fight themselves in this cause, although many of them would have made most eligible recruits; and if they had been Southerners, their female relations would have made them enter the army whether their inclinations led them that way or not.

I do not mention this difference of spirit by way of making any odious comparisons between North and South in this respect, because I feel sure that these Northern gentlemen would emulate the example of their enemy if they could foresee any danger of a Southern Butler exercising his infamous sway over Philadelphia, or of a Confederate Milroy ruling with intolerable despotism in Boston, by withholding the necessaries of life from helpless women with one hand, whilst tendering them with the other a hated and absurd oath of allegiance to a detested Government.

But the mass of respectable Northerners, though they may be willing to pay, do not very naturally feel themselves called upon to give their blood in a war of aggression, ambition, and conquest.– For this war is essentially a war of conquest. If ever a nation did wage such a war, the North is now engaged, with a determination worthy of a more hopeful cause, in endeavoring to conquer the South; but the more I think of all that I have seen in the Confederate States of the devotion of the whole population, the more I feel inclined to say with General Polk–“How can you subjugate such a people as this?” and even supposing that their extermination were a feasible plan, as some Northerners have suggested, I never can believe that in the nineteenth century the civilized world will be condemned to witness the destruction of such a gallant race.

— Diary of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States (1864), Postscript.

Liberators

I saw a most laughable spectacle this afternoon– viz., a negro, dressed in full Yankee uniform, with a rifle at full cock, leading along a barefooted white man, with whom he evidently changed clothes. General Longstreet stopped the pair, and asked the black man what it meant. He replied, “The two soldiers in charge of this here Yank have got drunk, so for fear he should escape I have took care of him, and brought him through that little town.” The consequential manner of the negro, and the supreme contempt with which he spoke to his prisoner, were most amusing. This little episode of a Southern slave leading a white Yankee soldier through a Northern village, alone and of his own accord, would not have been gratifying to an abolitionist. Nor would the sympathizers both in England and in the North feel encouraged if they could hear the language of detestation and contempt with which the numerous negroes with the Southern armies speak of their liberators.

Diary of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States (1864), 6 July 1863, describing an incident during the retreat from the Battle of Gettysburg.

We Are Not Ashamed!

First National Confederate Flag attributed to “Hart’s Battery” -- otherwise known as the “Dallas Artillery” as it was organized at Dallas, Arkansas (Polk County) in August 1861.
First National Confederate Flag attributed to “Hart’s Battery” — otherwise known as the “Dallas Artillery” as it was organized at Dallas, Arkansas (Polk County) in August 1861.

Less than two weeks ago the President of the United States, in a public address, is reported as using these words: “They said that Grant had not the military genius that other generals displayed in the war. To my mind, his mind and brain represented the very genius of war to suppress the rebellion, because it was his mind that grasped the thought that until we had fought it out with our brave opponents and met them in the field and fought them as soldiers, until we convinced them by our strength that the battle was hopeless, we could not expect to have a united country. And therefore, from the time he began in Belmont until he accomplished the surrender of Lee, at Appomattox, he fought not cities, not points of strategy, but he fought the enemy, and he fought, and fought, and fought, until he wore out the opposition, because only by wearing them out could he hope to bring about the condition in which there would be a complete peace.”

Here is, at last, a practical acknowledgment in public by the President of the United States to a Northern audience of the truth of the oft-repeated, concise statement of the case. We were not whipped, but we were worn out whipping the enemy! We read that these words of the President were applauded. How many of that audience understood what he so adroitly said about “the enemy” and about “wearing out the opposition?” The inference would naturally be drawn that he fought the armies of Lee and Johnston; but how? Lee was defending Richmond and Petersburg, and Johnston was holding points of strategy; and we read: “He fought not cities, not points of strategy — he fought the enemy!” Who were the enemy? Some of the enemy were prisoners of war, nearly starving amid plenty, while a greater number of Northern prisoners, nearly starving, because we had very little with which to feed our soldiers in the field, were dying in Southern prisons. But under no condition would they agree to exchange prisoners. Why not? Because it kept Southern soldiers off the field to guard them, and every Northern prisoner helped to eat the remnant of food in the South. They even refused to take home their sick and dying prisoners when urged to do so, none being asked in return.

This week a monument will be unveiled at Andersonville, Ga., to Major Henry Wirz, C. S. A. It will be recalled that he was executed, in the time of peace, while under the protection of a parole. “He was condemned to an ignominious death on charges of excessive cruelty to Federal prisoners. He indignantly spurned a pardon proffered on condition that he would incriminate President Davis.” These words are upon his monument. But note, my brethren, the following words are on the other side of his monument: “It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. At this particular time to release all rebel prisoners would insure Sherman’s defeat and would compromise our safety here. Aug. 18th, 1864. Ulysses S. Grant.”

Who were the enemy? Follow in the wake of the army in the Valley of Virginia in ‘64. View the beautiful plantations on the lower James. Follow Sherman’s army in its march to the sea, and read the general’s report of how he fought the enemy. Burning barns, milch cows, which furnished sustenance for babes and sucklings shot and left to decay in the pastures; fowls shot and left in the barnyard; fields of grain, the hope of food for the winter, deliberately destroyed and trodden under foot; stacks of straw and hay lighting up the darkness of night!

The result was 9,000 ragged, starving heroes, eating parched corn, march from Richmond to Appomattox. And the surrender of Lee is accomplished! This was “the very genius of war that suppressed the rebellion.” Yes, “they fought, and fought, and fought, till they wore out the opposition.” But whom did they fight, and how? The Army of Northern Virginia is to pass through Maryland into Pennsylvania. Strict orders are given that all private property is to be respected, and noncombatants are in no way to be molested. The orders are signed by R. E. Lee, General.

The battle of Gettysburg has been fought; Lee’s army is marching through the enemy’s country on the retreat. As he is riding along, sustaining by his matchless bearing the courage of his tired army, he sees that some one has thrown down a worm fence around a Pennsylvanian’s wheatfield. He dismounts, and with the bridle of his horse over his arm, he puts up that fence, rail by rail, that he may protect the private property of the enemy! Evidently Lee did not have that kind of the “very genius of war that suppressed the rebellion.” My brethren, these are facts; and for our part, we are not ashamed of them! And we must see to it that history gives facts. Not that we would keep alive the embers of strife — God forbid! But we would preserve the truth. We would have our children and our children’s children know, not that we fought bravely in a cause that was not just, and that we were magnanimously forgiven by a generous foe, because we did it ignorantly in unbelief, because we thought we were right; we would not have it believed that we fought on equal terms, and in the same way they fought; but that we could not be conquered, even by vastly superior numbers and inexhaustible resources, till the women and children of the South as well as the armies in the field were brought to the verge of starvation by the systematic destruction of the necessities of life. I tell you we are not true to the memory of our brave soldiers who died for us if we suppress the facts for the sake of peace!

— From sermon preached by Rev. R. A. Goodwin on 9 May 1909, before the Oakwood Memorial Association, old St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia.

To Conquer Is to Live Enough

Battle flag of the 5th Texas Regiment, sewn by Maude Young, a Houston botanist and school principal whose son had enlisted in the Texas Brigade. The flag was emblazoned with the regiment’s name and the Latin motto Vivere Sat Vincere, or “To conquer is to live enough.” It was presented to the regiment in June 1862, and served as the regimental colors two weeks later at the Battle of Gaines Mill. The flag was sent away to be decorated with battle honors after the Peninsula Campaign, and the regiment carried their earlier Lone Star flag (TSLAC 306-4042) at Second Manassas and Antietam. After that flag was sent back to Texas for display, the regiment chose to use Mrs. Young’s flag through the rest of the war. As part of Hood’s Texas Brigade, the regiment fought at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.
Battle flag of the 5th Texas Regiment, sewn by Maude Young, a Houston botanist and school principal whose son had enlisted in the Texas Brigade. The flag was emblazoned with the regiment’s name and the Latin motto Vivere Sat Vincere, or “To conquer is to live enough.” It was presented to the regiment in June 1862, and served as the regimental colors two weeks later at the Battle of Gaines Mill. The flag was sent away to be decorated with battle honors after the Peninsula Campaign, and the regiment carried their earlier Lone Star flag (TSLAC 306-4042) at Second Manassas and Antietam. After that flag was sent back to Texas for display, the regiment chose to use Mrs. Young’s flag through the rest of the war. As part of Hood’s Texas Brigade, the regiment fought at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.