Similarity of Substance

Poeta nascitur non fit,”–we are taught as axiomatic by the highest authority. So, also, of nations–they are not made; neither can they be laid off upon the map, by rule and compass, to suit the fancy, interest, or whim of any man or set of men. After all the wars in Europe for the last five hundred years, the boundaries assumed in the beginning of their national lifehood are much the same to-day. Napoleon I. did not level the Pyrenees, neither could he. Spain and France exist now as they did before Rome and Carthage. Nations, then, are not made, but born; born of identity of race, language, interest; born of similarity of climate, production, pursuit; born of congeniality of thought, feeling, habit, taste, religion; born not of treaties, leagues, constitutions; born not of man, but of nature and of God. In nature similarity of substance is, the condition precedent to crystallization. A nation is a natural crystal, and similarity, also, is the condition and law of its being.

Judged by this criterion, how could, how can ever the Northern and Southern people unify? What similarity, pray, was there, or will there ever be, between Plymouth and Jamestown, between Boston and Charleston, Raleigh and Rochester, Nashville and Detroit, Milwaukee and Mobile, New Orleans and Chicago? What attraction could exist between Puritan and Cavalier, between Rev. Cotton Mather and Capt. John Smith, between the Blue Laws of Connecticut and the perfect toleration of Maryland? What congeniality is there between the productions of the North and the South; between the ice of New Pond and the rice of Santee river; the enormous granite monoliths of Quincy and the saccharine juiciness of the cane of Atchafalaya; between the Jerome clock of Connecticut and the cotton bale of Alabama? Whom, therefore, God and nature have put asunder, man cannot join together.

Southern Literary Messenger, Volume 32, Issue 2, Feb 1861; pp. 119.

Baffled Avarice, Malignant Fanaticism, and Moral Turpitude

Now, gentlemen, notwithstanding these facts I have endeavored to group before you–notwithstanding this labor, this long-suffering, this patience I have endeavored to show you she has practiced–throughout this whole land, over all Christendom, my State has been accused of “rash precipitancy.” Is it rash precipitancy to step out of the pathway when you hear the thunder-crash of the falling avalanche? Is it rash precipitancy to seek for shelter when you hear the hissing of the coming tempest, and see the storm-cloud close down upon you? Is it rash precipitancy to raise your hands to protect your heart?

I venture to assert, that never, since liberty came into the institutions of man, have a people borne with more patience, or forborne with more fortitude, than have the people of these Southern States in their relations with their confederates. As long as it was merely silly fanaticism or prurient philanthropy which proposed our destruction, we did nothing–scarcely complained. Even when partial and most oppressive taxation, continued for years, ground us into the dust of poverty, save for a moment of convulsive struggle, we bore it patiently; even when many of our confederates, by State and municipal regulations, violated provisions of our compact vital to us, and hordes of their people, under the sanction of these regulations, robbed our property and murdered our citizens; even when, under the same sanction, bands of wild fanatics invaded slave States, and proclaimed the destruction of slavery by the annihilation of the slaveholder, and States and cities erected shrines to the memory of the felons; when one confederate demanded that we must be driven from the civilization of the age in which we live, and another sent its chief representative to defame us before the civilized world; beneath all these enormities, we continued to give our blood, our gold and our sweat to build up the grandeur and maintain the power of that Republic. And when there was added to this all that baffled avarice, malignant fanaticism and moral turpitude could devise to vilify, wrong and irritate us, we still gave our blood and treasure, and offered our hands, and called them brethren. I draw no fancy picture, I use no declamatory assertions.

There is not a man in this Convention who may not cite twenty cases to meet every item of this catalogue. But when, at last, this fanaticism and eager haste for rapine, mingling their foul purposes, engendered those fermenting millions who have seized the Constitution and distorted its most sacred form into an instrument of our ruin, why then longer submission seemed to us not only base cowardice, but absolute fatuity. In South Carolina we felt that, to remain one hour under such a domination, we would merit the destruction earned by our own folly and baseness. We felt that if there was one son of a Carolina sire who would counsel such submission, there was not a hill-side or a plain, from Eutaw to the Cowpens, from which the spirit of his offended sire would not start forth to shame him from the land he desecrated. We did not find air enough in that little State to give breath to such counsel; there was not firm earth enough there for one such counsellor to stand upon.

— Address of Hon. John S. Preston, Commissioner from South Carolina, to the Convention of Virginia, 19 February 1861.

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.

Never a Desponding Word

I am now about to leave the Southern States, after traveling quite alone throughout their entire length and breadth, including Texas and the trans-Mississippi country, for nearly three months and a half, during which time I have been thrown amongst all classes of the population–the highest and lowest, and the most lawless. Although many were very sore about the conduct of England, I never received an uncivil word from anybody, but on the contrary, I have been treated by all with more than kindness. I have never met a man who was not anxious for a termination of the war; and I have never met a man, woman, or child who contemplated its termination as possible without an entire separation from the now detested Yankee. I have never been asked for alms or a gratuity by any man or woman, black or white. Every one knew who I was, and all spoke to me with the greatest confidence. I have rarely heard any person complain of the almost total ruin which had befallen so many. All are prepared to undergo still greater sacrifices,–they contemplate and prepare to receive greater reverses which it is impossible to avert. They look to a successful termination of the war as certain, although few are sanguine enough to fix a speedy date for it, and nearly all bargain for its lasting at least all Lincoln’s presidency. Although I have always been with the Confederates in the time of their misfortunes, yet I never heard any person use a desponding word as to the result of the struggle. When I was in Texas and Louisiana, Banks seemed to be carrying every thing before him, Grant was doing the same in Mississippi, and I certainly did not bring luck to my friends at Gettysburg. I have lived in bivouacs with all the Southern armies, which are as distinct from one another as the British is from the Austrian, and I have never once seen an instance of insubordination.

Diary of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States (1864), 7 July 1863.

Rowdies, Cut-throats, and Burglars

Federal troops drill on the grounds of the United States Capitol in 1861. (Library of Congress)
Federal troops drill on the grounds of the United States Capitol in 1861. (Library of Congress)

One of the most melancholy features of the horrible and bloody strife into which this country is about to be involved consists in the fact that the very best portion of the population of the South will be required to meet in mortal combat, in great part, the very worst population of the North. Whenever the South shall lose a soldier, it will lose a valuable citizen, whose loss will be sensibly felt, whereas the North would be benefitted if a large portion of its soldiers would never return from the battle-field. The flower of Southern honor and chivalry will cross swords with rowdies, cut-throats and burglars from the corrupt cesspools of Northern cities.–the South sends into the field honorable, honest, moral and virtuous soldiers, the North such desperadoes, and dangerous men as she is afraid to keep at home. As an illustration of the spirit of our people, and the kind of men who are volunteering their services to the State, we will mention the fact that a number of Minsters of the Gospel who are distinguished for talents, cultivation, eloquence and piety, have exchanged the “sacred desk” for the soldier’s tent.

The Rev. Dr. B. M. Smith and Rev. Dr. R. L. Dabney, Professors of the “Union Theological Seminary,” Rev. Dr. Moses Hoge, Pastor of the 2nd Presbyterian Church in Richmond city, and Rev. Dr. Pendleton, Rector of the Episcopal Church in Lexington, all of whom are well known in this county, have connected themselves with volunteer companies. Dr. Pendleton is now Captain of an Artillery Company in Lexington, being elected to supply the vacancy caused by the promotion of Capt. McCausland to the post of lieutenant Colonel of Volunteers. As Dr. Pendleton is a graduate of West Point, and has served several years in the army, he will no doubt make a good and efficient officer.–Though the conflict may be terrible, we do no doubt that, in time, the Northern “Apollyon” will succumb to the Southern “Christian,” and that our brave soldiery who go forth clad in the panoply of a just cause, will return with their banners–though “tattered and torn”–wreathed with the laurels of victory.

Staunton Spectator, 14 May 1861, p. 2, c. 3.

Let It Be Told

Great Seal of the Confederate States of America, lithograph by Andrew B. Graham, Washington, 1911.
Great Seal of the Confederate States of America, lithograph by Andrew B. Graham, Washington, 1911.

When the South declared in consequence of all these things they would leave the Union unless something was done to assure their protection and justice within it, the whole air resounded with the taunts of Northern members of Congress and the Northern press, taunting them for their weakness and impotence, and threatening to overwhelm them by their superior power, until State after State fell from them in utter despair. Let it be told how a Confederacy was thus formed, small in point of numbers, consisting of eight millions of whites, and about four millions of slaves, without commerce, without manufactures, and almost without accumulated capital, and without allies — which Confederacy staked its all upon an issue of arms with a union of more than twenty millions of men homogeneous in character and pursuits, and which, abounding in all those things of which the others were so much in want, and although nominally without professed allies was yet substantially assisted by the whole world, which, although professing to be impartial, respected a paper blockade, which of itself was almost fatal to a people without ships of war, and to which they had not quietly submitted heretofore. Nor could they have done so then but for the idea that they were indirectly assisting in a war against slavery. What was to be the effect of all this, foreigners did not then understand, or their course might have been different; nor did the North foresee the terrible nature of the contest in which they were about to embark, or they might have paused before entering into it. But let the whole story be told, that the world and the country may behold the entire consequences of such a strife before they provoke another like it. Let us hear the history of that famous day at Bull Run, when Northern men and Northern women, as if upon some review or gala occasion, followed their army out from Washington to see it overwhelm the poor, despised South, whose sons were recklessly assembled together, as they supposed, to be routed and ruined by the superior forces which they stood up to encounter. Let all mankind hear how bloody was the reception which they met, until they broke and fled in wild despair, even more surprised than frightened, if possible, to find the men in gray capable of such stern resistance. Let the course of these heroic men be followed after they fell into the master-hands of Lee, for more than four years over the soil of Virginia, as they trod in triumph with feet red with the blood of their enemies, and as they hurled back the invading forces, sometimes four, sometimes three, and never less than two to one, reeking with their own blood and red with carnage; now driving McClellan into the James River and clear away from Richmond; now hurling Burnside across the Rappahannock river in bloody repulse from the good town of Fredericksburg. Let it be told how these same men in gray flanked the superior hosts of the North under Hooker, and drove them away in wild and bewildering flight, having lost their confidence in numbers, and believing it impossible to make themselves superior in strength so long as there was a Lee to plan, or a Jackson to lead these brave men in the charge, whose wild cheer always betokened courage and victory so long as they had food and clothing, and maintained heart and hope; or still following them in their bloody march, let us pause with them at Cold Harbor, where they repulsed Grant’s assault and piled so high the Federal dead that, as the rumor runs, the authorities at Washington despaired of success, and resolved to abandon the contest and agree to a division of the Union, a determination which they only revoked upon the receipt of encouraging news from the Southwest. But we must not leave the story there; we must follow it to the last sad results, until the tapestry is quite reversed. We must follow it to its final close, when without food, without clothes, and an unsufficient supply of arms, Lee surrendered his hardy and battered regiments with eight thousand muskets in their hands, whilst the rolls bore twenty-two thousand upon their face. And thus when it was impossible to maintain any further contest upon even plausible terms, the army was surrendered and the cause was lost.

— Hon. R. M. T. Hunter in an address to the Southern Historical Society (as reorganised), at the Capitol, Richmond, 27 October 1874.

A Regular and General Musical Education

Sheet Music: Dixie’s Land, c. 1859, by Daniel Decatur Emmett, Virginia Historical Society, Mss2 Em 645 a1.
Sheet Music: Dixie’s Land, c. 1859, by Daniel Decatur Emmett, Virginia Historical Society, Mss2 Em 645 a1.

No one can tell us, we verily believe, why vocal music ought not to be a branch of common school education in Virginia, just as much as in Prussia. A resolution that it should be so, entered into this day, by those who have power to carry their resolutions into execution, would be a greater blessing to the State, we verily believe, than either of the railroads which have been chartered, or have received legislative donation this winter. It would be a direct contribution to the children of the land, of a large mass of solid enjoyment, of an innocent character, and worth more to them than an ingot to each, massy as they could bear home, of Californian gold. But we know our country too well to hope that such is going to be case very soon. It will probably be long, before that very obvious idea, very obvious when distinctly looked at, that music is a branch of common education, and one of the most valuable branches, will be admitted into the craniums of the old-world people, — health and long life to their honours! — who yet linger among us, and who are averse to one-half the means and instrumentalities of a genuine civilization, either as sinful things, or as new and proud inventions. In default of a regular and general musical education, such as ought to be given to both sexes, let us try diligently the best practical means — singing schools — if the teacher be not a stray Yankee — singing societies, singing classes of all descriptions. There are no happier re-unions of young people than such.

Southern Literary Messenger, Volume XIX, no. 2, April 1853 (Richmond, Virginia).