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Title: The Day of the Confederacy: A Chronicle of the Embattled South
Author: Stephenson, Nathaniel W. (Nathaniel Wright)
Language: English
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The Day of the Confederacy

By Nathaniel W. Stephenson

A Chronicle of the Embattled South

Volume 30 of the
Chronicles of America Series
Allen Johnson, Editor
Assistant Editors
Gerhard R. Lomer
Charles W. Jefferys

Abraham Lincoln Edition

New Haven: Yale University Press
Toronto: Glasgow, Brook & Co.
London: Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press

Copyright, 1919
by Yale University Press


         The Day of the Confederacy
Chapter        Chapter Title           Page
   I.   The Secession Movement            1
  II.   The Davis Government             24
 III.   The Fall of King Cotton          45
  IV.   Reaction Against Richmond        58
   V.   The Critical Year                87
  VI.   Life in the Confederacy          99
 VII.   The Turning of the Tide         112
VIII.   A Game of Chance                130
  IX.   Desperate Remedies              145
   X.   Disintegration                  165
  XI.   An Attempted Revolution         183
 XII.   The Last Word                   200
        Bibliographical Note            205
        Index                           209



The Secession Movement

The secession movement had three distinct stages. The first, beginning
with the news that Lincoln was elected, closed with the news, sent
broadcast over the South from Charleston, that Federal troops had taken
possession of Fort Sumter on the night of the 26th of December. During
this period the likelihood of secession was the topic of discussion in
the lower South. What to do in case the lower South seceded was the
question which perplexed the upper South. In this period no State north
of South Carolina contemplated taking the initiative. In the
Southeastern and Gulf States immediate action of some sort was expected.
Whether it would be secession or some other new course was not certain
on the day of Lincoln's election.

Various States earlier in the year had provided for conventions of their
people in the event of a Republican victory. The first to assemble was
the convention of South Carolina, which organized at Columbia, on
December 17, 1860. Two weeks earlier Congress had met. Northerners and
Southerners had at once joined issue on their relation in the Union. The
House had appointed its committee of thirty-three to consider the
condition of the country. So unpromising indeed from the Southern point
of view had been the early discussions of this committee that a
conference of Southern members of Congress had sent out their famous
address To Our Constituents: "The argument is exhausted. All hope of
relief in the Union ... is extinguished, and we trust the South will not
be deceived by appearances or the pretense of new guarantees. In our
judgment the Republicans are resolute in the purpose to grant nothing
that will or ought to satisfy the South. We are satisfied the honor,
safety, and independence of the Southern people require the organization
of a Southern Confederacy--a result to be obtained only by separate
state secession." Among the signers of this address were the two
statesmen who had in native talent no superiors at Washington--Judah P.
Benjamin of Louisiana and Jefferson Davis of Mississippi.

The appeal To Our Constituents was not the only assurance of support
tendered to the convention of South Carolina. To represent them at this
convention the governors of Alabama and Mississippi had appointed
delegates. Mr. Hooker of Mississippi and Mr. Elmore of Alabama made
addresses before the convention on the night of the 17th of December.
Both reiterated views which during two days of lobbying they had
disseminated in Columbia "on all proper occasions." Their argument,
summed up in Elmore's report to Governor Moore of Alabama, was "that the
only course to unite the Southern States in any plan of coöperation
which could promise safety was for South Carolina to take the lead and
secede at once without delay or hesitation ... that the only effective
plan of coöperation must ensue after one State had seceded and presented
the issue when the plain question would be presented to the other
Southern States whether they would stand by the seceding State engaged
in a common cause or abandon her to the fate of coercion by the arms of
the Government of the United States."

Ten years before, in the unsuccessful secession movement of 1850 and
1851, Andrew Pickens Butler, perhaps the ablest South Carolinian then
living, strove to arrest the movement by exactly the opposite argument.
Though desiring secession, he threw all his weight against it because
the rest of the South was averse. He charged his opponents, whose leader
was Robert Barnwell Rhett, with aiming to place the other Southern
States "in such circumstances that, having a common destiny, they would
be compelled to be involved in a common sacrifice." He protested that
"to force a sovereign State to take a position against its consent is to
make of it a reluctant associate.... Both interest and honor must
require the Southern States to take council together."

That acute thinker was now in his grave. The bold enthusiast whom he
defeated in 1851 had now no opponent that was his match. No great
personality resisted the fiery advocates from Alabama and Mississippi.
Their advice was accepted. On December 20, 1860, the cause that ten
years before had failed was successful. The convention, having adjourned
from Columbia to Charleston, passed an ordinance of secession.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, at a hundred meetings, the secession issue was
being hotly discussed. But there was not yet any certainty which way the
scale would turn. An invitation from South Carolina to join in a general
Southern convention had been declined by the Governor in November.
Governor Brown has left an account ascribing the comparative coolness
and deliberation of the hour to the prevailing impression that President
Buchanan had pledged himself not to alter the military status at
Charleston. In an interview between South Carolina representatives and
the President, the Carolinians understood that such a pledge was given.
"It was generally understood by the country," says Governor Brown, "that
such an agreement ... had been entered into ... and that Governor Floyd
of Virginia, then Secretary of War, had expressed his determination to
resign his position in the Cabinet in case of the refusal of the
President to carry out the agreement in good faith. The resignation of
Governor Floyd was therefore naturally looked upon, should it occur, as
a signal given to the South that reinforcements were to be sent to
Charleston and that the coercive policy had been adopted by the Federal

While the "canvass in Georgia for members of the State convention was
progressing with much interest on both sides," there came suddenly the
news that Anderson had transferred his garrison from Fort Moultrie to
the island fortress of Sumter. That same day commissioners from South
Carolina, newly arrived at Washington, sought in vain to persuade the
President to order Anderson back to Moultrie. The Secretary of War made
the subject an issue before the Cabinet. Unable to carry his point, two
days later he resigned. ¹

¹ The President had already asked for Floyd's resignation because of
financial irregularities, and Floyd was shrewd enough to use Anderson's
coup as an excuse for resigning. See Rhodes, History of the United
States, vol. II pp. 225, 236 (note).

The Georgia Governor, who had not hitherto been in the front rank of the
aggressives, now struck a great blow. Senator Toombs had telegraphed
from Washington that Fort Pulaski, guarding the Savannah River, was "in
danger." The Governor had reached the same conclusion. He mustered the
state militia and seized Fort Pulaski. Early in the morning on January
3, 1861, the fort was occupied by Georgia troops. Shortly afterward,
Brown wrote to a commissioner sent by the Governor of Alabama to confer
with him: "While many of our most patriotic and intelligent citizens in
both States have doubted the propriety of immediate secession, I feel
quite confident that recent events have dispelled those doubts from the
minds of most men who have, till within the past few days, honestly
sustained them." The first stage of the secession movement was at an
end; the second had begun.

A belief that Washington had entered upon a policy of aggression swept
the lower South. The state conventions assembling about this time passed
ordinances of secession--Mississippi, January 9; Florida, January 10;
Alabama, January 11; Georgia, January 19; Louisiana, January 26; Texas,
February 1. But this result was not achieved without considerable
opposition. In Georgia the Unionists put up a stout fight. The issue was
not upon the right to secede--virtually no one denied the right--but
upon the wisdom of invoking the right. Stephens, gloomy and pessimistic,
led the opposition. Toombs came down from Washington to take part with
the secessionists. From South Carolina and Alabama, both ceaselessly
active for secession, commissioners appeared to lobby at Milledgeville,
as commissioners of Alabama and Mississippi had lobbied at Columbia.
Besides the out-and-out Unionists, there were those who wanted to
temporize, to threaten the North, and to wait for developments. The
motion on which these men and the Unionists made their last stand
together went against them 164 to 133. Then at last came the square
question: Shall we secede? Even on this question, the minority was
dangerously large. Though the temporizers came over to the
secessionists, and with them came Stephens, there was still a minority
of 89 irreconcilables against the majority numbering 208.

"My allegiance," said Stephens afterwards, "was, as I considered it, not
due to the United States, or to the people of the United States, but to
Georgia, in her sovereign capacity. Georgia had never parted with her
right to demand the ultimate allegiance of her citizens."

The attempt in Georgia to restrain impetuosity and advance with
deliberation was paralleled in Alabama, where also the aggressives were
determined not to permit delay. In the Alabama convention, the
conservatives brought forward a plan for a general Southern convention
to be held at Nashville in February. It was rejected by a vote of 54 to
45. An attempt to delay secession until after the 4th of March was
defeated by the same vote.

The determination of the radicals to precipitate the issue received
interesting criticism from the Governor of Texas, old Sam Houston. To a
commissioner from Alabama who was sent out to preach the cause in Texas
the Governor wrote, in substance, that since Alabama would not wait to
consult the people of Texas he saw nothing to discuss at that time, and
he went on to say:

Recognizing as I do the fact that the sectional tendencies of the Black
Republican party call for determined constitutional resistance at the
hands of the united South, I also feel that the million and a half of
noble-hearted, conservative men who have stood by the South, even to
this hour, deserve some sympathy and support. Although we have lost the
day, we have to recollect that our conservative Northern friends cast
over a quarter of a million more votes against the Black Republicans
than we of the entire South. I cannot declare myself ready to desert
them as well as our Southern brethren of the border (and such, I
believe, will be the sentiment of Texas) until at least one firm attempt
has been made to preserve our constitutional rights within the Union.

Nevertheless, Houston was not able to control his State. Delegates from
Texas attended the later sessions of a general Congress of the seceding
States which, on the invitation of Alabama, met at Montgomery on the 4th
of February. A contemporary document of singular interest today is the
series of resolutions adopted by the Legislature of North Carolina,
setting forth that, as the State was a member of the Federal Union, it
could not accept the invitation of Alabama but should send delegates for
the purpose of persuading the South to effect a readjustment on the
basis of the Crittenden Compromise as modified by the Legislature of
Virginia. The commissioners were sent, were graciously received, were
accorded seats in the Congress, but they exerted no influence on the
course of its action.

The Congress speedily organized a provisional Government for the
Confederate States of America. The Constitution of the United States,
rather hastily reconsidered, became with a few inevitable alterations
the Constitution of the Confederacy. ¹ Davis was unanimously elected
President; Stephens, Vice-President. Provision was made for raising an
army. Commissioners were dispatched to Washington to negotiate a treaty
with the United States; other commissioners were sent to Virginia to
attempt to withdraw that great commonwealth from the Union.

¹ To the observer of a later age this document appears a thing of haste.
Like the framers of the Constitution of 1787, who omitted from their
document some principles which they took for granted, the framers of
1861 left unstated their most distinctive views. The basal idea upon
which the revolution proceeded, the right of secession, is not to be
found in the new Constitution. Though the preamble declares that the
States are acting in their sovereign and independent character, the new
Confederation is declared "permanent." In the body of the document are
provisions similar to those in the Federal Constitution enabling a
majority of two-thirds of the States to amend at their pleasure, thus
imposing their will upon the minority. With three notable exceptions the
new Constitution, subsequent to the preamble, does little more than
restate the Constitution of 1787 rearranged so as to include those basal
principles of the English law added to the earlier Constitution by the
first eight amendments. The three exceptions are the prohibitions (1) of
the payment of bounties, (2) of the levying of duties to promote any one
form of industry, and (3) of appropriations for internal improvements.
Here was a monument to the battle over these matters in the Federal
Congress. As to the mechanism of the new Government it was the same as
the old except for a few changes of detail. The presidential term was
lengthened to six years and the President was forbidden to succeed
himself. The President was given the power to veto items in
appropriation bills. The African slave-trade was prohibited.

The upper South was thus placed in a painful situation. Its sympathies
were with the seceding States. Most of its people felt also that if
coercion was attempted, the issue would become for Virginia and North
Carolina, no less than for South Carolina and Alabama, simply a matter
of self-preservation. As early as January, in the exciting days when
Floyd's resignation was being interpreted as a call to arms, the
Virginia Legislature had resolved that it would not consent to the
coercion of a seceding State. In May the Speaker of the North Carolina
Legislature assured a commissioner from Georgia that North Carolina
would never consent to the movement of troops "from or across" the State
to attack a seceding State. But neither Virginia nor North Carolina in
this second stage of the movement wanted to secede. They wanted to
preserve the Union, but along with the Union they wanted the principle
of local autonomy. It was a period of tense anxiety in those States of
the upper South. The frame of mind of the men who loved the Union but
who loved equally their own States and were firm for local autonomy is
summed up in a letter in which Mrs. Robert E. Lee describes the anguish
of her husband as he confronted the possibility of a divided country.

The real tragedy of the time lay in the failure of the advocates of
these two great principles--each so necessary to a far-flung democratic
country in a world of great powers!--the failure to coördinate them so
as to insure freedom at home and strength abroad. The principle for
which Lincoln stood has saved Americans in the Great War from playing
such a trembling part as that of Holland. The principle which seemed to
Lee even more essential, which did not perish at Appomattox but was
transformed and not destroyed, is what has kept us from becoming a
western Prussia. And yet if only it had been possible to coördinate the
two without the price of war! It was not possible because of the stored
up bitterness of a quarter century of recrimination. But Virginia made a
last desperate attempt to preserve the Union by calling the Peace
Convention. It assembled at Washington the day the Confederate Congress
met at Montgomery. Though twenty-one States sent delegates, it was no
more able to effect a working scheme of compromise than was the House
committee of thirty-three or the Senate committee of thirteen, both of
which had striven, had failed, and had gone their ways to a place in the
great company of historic futilities.

And so the Peace Convention came and went, and there was no consolation
for the troubled men of the upper South who did not want to secede but
were resolved not to abandon local autonomy. Virginia was the key to the
situation. If Virginia could be forced into secession, the rest of the
upper South would inevitably follow. Therefore a Virginia hothead, Roger
A. Pryor, being in Charleston in those wavering days, poured out his
heart in fiery words, urging a Charleston crowd to precipitate war, in
the certainty that Virginia would then have to come to their aid. When
at last Sumter was fired upon and Lincoln called for volunteers, the
second stage of the secession movement ended in a thunderclap. The third
period was occupied by the second group of secessions: Virginia on the
17th of April, North Carolina and Arkansas during May, Tennessee early
in June.

Sumter was the turning-point. The boom of the first cannon trained on
the island fortress deserves all the rhetoric it has inspired. Who was
immediately responsible for that firing which was destiny? Ultimate
responsibility is not upon any person. War had to be. If Sumter had not
been the starting-point, some other would have been found. Nevertheless
the question of immediate responsibility, of whose word it was that
served as the signal to begin, has produced an historic controversy.

When it was known at Charleston that Lincoln would attempt to provision
the fort, the South Carolina authorities referred the matter to the
Confederate authorities. The Cabinet, in a fateful session at
Montgomery, hesitated--drawn between the wish to keep their hold upon
the moderates of the North, who were trying to stave off war, and the
desire to precipitate Virginia into the lists. Toombs, Secretary of
State in the new Government, wavered; then seemed to find his resolution
and came out strong against a demand for surrender. "It is suicide,
murder, and will lose us every friend at the North.... It is
unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal," said he. But the
Cabinet and the President decided to take the risk. To General Pierre
Beauregard, recently placed in command of the militia assembled at
Charleston, word was sent to demand the surrender of Fort Sumter.

On Thursday, the 7th of April, besides his instructions from Montgomery,
Beauregard was in receipt of a telegram from the Confederate
commissioners at Washington, repeating newspaper statements that the
Federal relief expedition intended to land a force "which will overcome
all opposition." There seems no doubt that Beauregard did not believe
that the expedition was intended merely to provision Sumter. Probably
every one in Charleston thought that the Federal authorities were trying
to deceive them, that Lincoln's promise not to do more than provision
Sumter was a mere blind. Fearfulness that delay might render Sumter
impregnable lay back of Beauregard's formal demand, on the 11th of
April, for the surrender of the fort. Anderson refused but "made some
verbal observations" to the aides who brought him the demand. In effect
he said that lack of supplies would compel him to surrender by the
fifteenth. When this information was taken back to the city, eager
crowds were in the streets of Charleston discussing the report that a
bombardment would soon begin. But the afternoon passed; night fell; and
nothing was done. On the beautiful terrace along the sea known as East
Battery, people congregated, watching the silent fortress whose brick
walls rose sheer from the midst of the harbor. The early hours of the
night went by and as midnight approached and still there was no flash
from either the fortress or the shore batteries which threatened it, the
crowds broke up.

Meanwhile there was anxious consultation at the hotel where Beauregard
had fixed his headquarters. Pilots came in from the sea to report to the
General that a Federal vessel had appeared off the mouth of the harbor.
This news may well explain the hasty dispatch of a second expedition to
Sumter in the middle of the night. At half after one, Friday morning,
four young men, aides of Beauregard, entered the fort. Anderson repeated
his refusal to surrender at once but admitted that he would have to
surrender within three days. Thereupon the aides held a council of war.
They decided that the reply was unsatisfactory and wrote out a brief
note which they handed to Anderson informing him that the Confederates
would open "fire upon Fort Sumter in one hour from this time." The note
was dated 3:20 A.M. The aides then proceeded to Fort Johnston on the
south side of the harbor and gave the order to fire.

The council of the aides at Sumter is the dramatic detail that has
caught the imagination of historians and has led them, at least in some
cases, to yield to a literary temptation. It is so dramatic--that scene
of the four young men holding in their hands, during a moment of
absolute destiny, the fate of a people; four young men, in the
irresponsible ardor of youth, refusing to wait three days and forcing
war at the instant! It is so dramatic that one cannot judge harshly the
artistic temper which is unable to reject it. But is the incident
historic? Did the four young men come to Sumter without definite
instructions? Was their conference really anything more than a careful
comparing of notes to make sure they were doing what they were intended
to do? Is not the real clue to the event a message from Beauregard to
the Secretary of War telling of his interview with the pilots? ¹

¹ A chief authority for the dramatic version of the council of the aides
is that fiery Virginian, Roger A. Pryor. He and another accompanied the
official messengers, the signers of the note to Anderson, James Chestnut
and Stephen Lee. Years afterwards Pryor told the story of the council in
a way to establish its dramatic significance. But would there be
anything strange if a veteran survivor, looking back to his youth, as
all of us do through more or less of mirage, yielded to the unconscious
artist that is in us all and dramatized this event unaware?

Dawn was breaking gray, with a faint rain in the air, when the first
boom of the cannon awakened the city. Other detonations followed in
quick succession. Shells rose into the night from both sides of the
harbor and from floating batteries. How lightly Charleston slept that
night may be inferred from the accounts in the newspapers. "At the
report of the first gun," says the Courier, "the city was nearly emptied
of its inhabitants who crowded the Battery and the wharves to witness
the conflict."

The East Battery and the lower harbor of the lovely city of Charleston
have been preserved almost without alteration. What they are today they
were in the breaking dawn on April 12, 1861. Business has gone up the
rivers between which Charleston lies and has left the point of the
city's peninsula, where East Battery looks outward to the Atlantic, in
its perfect charm. There large houses, pillared, with high piazzas,
stand apart one from another among gardens. With few exceptions they
were built before the middle of the century and all, with one exception,
show the classical taste of those days. The mariner, entering the
spacious inner sea that is Charleston Harbor, sights this row of stately
mansions even before he crosses the bar seven miles distant. Holding
straight onward up into the land he heads first for the famous little
island where, nowadays, in their halo of thrilling recollection, the
walls of Sumter, rising sheer from the bosom of the water, drowse idle.
Close under the lee of Sumter, the incoming steersman brings his ship
about and chooses, probably, the eastward of two huge tentacles of the
sea between which lies the city's long but narrow peninsula. To the
steersman it shows a skyline serrated by steeples, fronted by sea,
flanked southward by sea, backgrounded by an estuary, and looped about
by a sickle of wooded islands.

This same scene, so far as city and nature go, was beheld by the crowds
that swarmed East Battery, a flagstone marine parade along the seaward
side of the boulevard that faces Sumter; that filled the windows and
even the housetops; that watched the bombardment with the eagerness of
an audience in an amphitheater; that applauded every telling shot with
clapping of hands and waving of shawls and handkerchiefs. The fort lay
distant from them about three miles, but only some fifteen hundred yards
from Fort Johnston on one side and about a mile from Fort Moultrie on
the other. From both of these latter, the cannon of those days were
equal to the task of harassing Sumter. Early in the morning of the 12th
of April, though not until broad day had come, did Anderson make reply.
All that day, at first under heavily rolling cloud and later through
curiously misty sunshine, the fire and counterfire continued. "The
enthusiasm and fearlessness of the spectators," says the Charleston
Mercury, "knew no bounds." Reckless observers even put out in small
boats and roamed about the harbor almost under the guns of the fort.
Outside the bar, vessels of the relieving squadron were now visible, and
to these Anderson signaled for aid. They made an attempt to reach the
fort, but only part of the squadron had arrived, and the vessels
necessary to raise the siege were not there. The attempt ended in
failure. When night came, a string of rowboats each carrying a huge
torch kept watch along the bar to guard against surprise from the sea.

On that Friday night the harbor was swept by storm. But in spite of
torrents of rain East Battery and the rooftops were thronged. "The wind
was inshore and the booming was startlingly distinct." At the height of
the bombardment, the sky above Sumter seemed to be filled with the
flashes of bursting shells. But during this wild night Sumter itself was
both dark and silent. Its casements did not have adequate lamps and the
guns could not be used except by day. When morning broke, clear and
bright after the night's storm, the duel was resumed.

The walls of Sumter were now crumbling. At eight o'clock Saturday
morning the barracks took fire. Soon after it was perceived from the
shore that the flag was down. Beauregard at once sent offers of
assistance. With Sumter in flames above his head, Anderson replied that
he had not surrendered; he declined assistance; and he hauled up his
flag. Later in the day the flagstaff was shot in two and again the flag
fell, and again it was raised. Flames had been kindled anew by red-hot
shot, and now the magazine was in danger. Quantities of powder were
thrown into the sea. Still the rain of red-hot shot continued. About
noon, Saturday, says the Courier, "flames burst out from every quarter
of Sumter and poured from many of its portholes ... the wind was from
the west driving the smoke across the fort into the embrasures where the
gunners were at work." Nevertheless, "as if served with a new impulse,"
the guns of Sumter redoubled their fire. But it was not in human
endurance to keep on in the midst of the burning fort. This splendid
last effort was short. At a quarter after one, Anderson ceased firing
and raised a white flag. Negotiations followed ending in terms of
surrender--Anderson to be allowed to remove his garrison to the fleet
lying idle beyond the bar and to salute the flag of the United States
before taking it down. The bombardment had lasted thirty-two hours
without a death on either side. The evacuation of the fort was to take
place next day.

The afternoon of Sunday, the 14th of April, was a gala day in the harbor
of Charleston. The sunlight slanted across the roofs of the city,
sparkled upon the sea. Deep and rich the harbor always looks in the
spring sunshine on bright afternoons. The filmy atmosphere of these
latitudes, at that time of year, makes the sky above the darkling,
afternoon sea a pale but luminous turquoise. There is a wonderful soft
strength in the peaceful brightness of the sun. In such an atmosphere
the harbor was flecked with brilliantly decked craft of every
description, all in a flutter of flags and carrying a host of passengers
in gala dress. The city swarmed across the water to witness the ceremony
of evacuation. Wherry men did a thriving business carrying passengers to
the fort.

Anderson withdrew from Sumter shortly after two o'clock amid a salute of
fifty guns. The Confederates took possession. At half after four a new
flag was raised above the battered and fire-swept walls.


The Davis Government

It has never been explained why Jefferson Davis was chosen President of
the Confederacy. He did not seek the office and did not wish it. He
dreamed of high military command. As a study in the irony of fate,
Davis's career is made to the hand of the dramatist. An instinctive
soldier, he was driven by circumstances three times to renounce the
profession of arms for a less congenial civilian life. His final
renunciation, which proved to be of the nature of tragedy, was his
acceptance of the office of President. Indeed, why the office was given
to him seems a mystery. Rhett was a more logical candidate. And when
Rhett, early in the lobbying at Montgomery, was set aside as too much of
a radical, Toombs seemed for a time the certain choice of the majority.
The change to Davis came suddenly at the last moment. It was puzzling at
the time; it is puzzling still.

Rhett, though doubtless bitterly disappointed, bore himself with the
savoir faire of a great gentleman. At the inauguration, it was on
Rhett's arm that Davis leaned as he entered the hall of the Confederate
Congress. The night before, in a public address, Yancey had said that
the man and the hour were met. The story of the Confederacy is filled
with dramatic moments, but to the thoughtful observer few are more
dramatic than the conjunction of these three men in the inauguration of
the Confederate President. Beneath a surface of apparent unanimity they
carried, like concealed weapons, points of view that were in deadly
antagonism. This antagonism had not revealed itself hitherto. It was
destined to reveal itself almost immediately. It went so deep and spread
so far that unless we understand it, the Confederate story will be

A strange fatality destined all three of these great men to despair.
Yancey, who was perhaps most directly answerable of the three for the
existence of the Confederacy, lost influence almost from the moment when
his dream became established. Davis was partly responsible, for he
promptly sent him out of the country on the bootless English mission.
Thereafter, until his death in 1863, Yancey was a waning, overshadowed
figure, steadily lapsing into the background. It may be that those
critics are right who say he was only an agitator. The day of the mere
agitator was gone. Yancey passed rapidly into futile but bitter
antagonism to Davis. In this attitude he was soon to be matched by

The discontent of the Rhett faction because their leader was not given
the portfolio of the State Department found immediate voice. But the
conclusion drawn by some that Rhett's subsequent course sprang from
personal vindictiveness is trifling. He was too large a personality, too
well defined an intellect, to be thus explained. Very probably Davis
made his first great blunder in failing to propitiate the Rhett faction.
And yet few things are more certain than that the two men, the two
factions which they symbolized, could not have formed a permanent
alliance. Had Rhett entered the Cabinet he could not have remained in it
consistently for any considerable time. The measures in which,
presently, the Administration showed its hand were measures in which
Rhett could not acquiesce. From the start he was predestined to his
eventual position--the great, unavailing genius of the opposition.

As to the comparative ignoring of these leaders of secession by the
Government which secession had created, it is often said that the
explanation is to be found in a generous as well as politic desire to
put in office the moderates and even the conservatives. Davis,
relatively, was a moderate. Stephens was a conservative. Many of the
most pronounced opponents of secession were given places in the public
service. Toombs, who received the portfolio of State, though a
secessionist, was conspicuously a moderate when compared with Rhett and
Yancey. The adroit Benjamin, who became Attorney-General, had few points
in common with the great extremists of Alabama and South Carolina.

However, the dictum that the personnel of the new Government was a
triumph for conservatism over radicalism signifies little. There was a
division among Southerners which scarcely any of them had realized
except briefly in the premature battle over secession in 1851. It was
the division between those who were conscious of the region as a whole
and those who were not. Explain it as you will, there was a moment just
after the secession movement succeeded when the South seemed to realize
itself as a whole, when it turned intuitively to those men who, as time
was to demonstrate, shared this realization. For the moment it turned
away from those others, however great their part in secession, who
lacked this sense of unity.

At this point, geography becomes essential. The South fell,
institutionally, into two grand divisions: one, with an old and firmly
established social order, where consciousness of the locality went back
to remote times; another, newly settled, where conditions were still
fluid, where that sense of the sacredness of local institutions had not
yet formed.

A typical community of the first-named class was South Carolina. Her
people had to a remarkable degree been rendered state-conscious partly
by their geographical neighbors, and partly by their long and
illustrious history, which had been interwoven with great European
interests during the colonial era and with great national interests
under the Republic. It is possible also that the Huguenots, though few
in numbers, had exercised upon the State a subtle and pervasive
influence through their intellectual power and their Latin sense for

In South Carolina, too, a wealthy leisure class with a passion for
affairs had cultivated enthusiastically that fine art which is the pride
of all aristocratic societies, the service of the State as a profession
high and exclusive, free from vulgar taint. In South Carolina all things
conspired to uphold and strengthen the sense of the State as an object
of veneration, as something over and above the mere social order, as the
sacred embodiment of the ideals of the community. Thus it is fair to say
that what has animated the heroic little countries of the Old
World--Switzerland and Serbia and ever-glorious Belgium--with their
passion to remain themselves, animated South Carolina in 1861. Just as
Serbia was willing to fight to the death rather than merge her identity
in the mosaic of the Austrian Empire, so this little American community
saw nothing of happiness in any future that did not secure its virtual

Typical of the newer order in the South was the community that formed
the President of the Confederacy. In the history of Mississippi previous
to the war there are six great names--Jacob Thompson, John A. Quitman,
Henry S. Foote, Robert J. Walker, Sergeant S. Prentiss, and Jefferson
Davis. Not one of them was born in the State. Thompson was born in North
Carolina; Quitman in New York; Foote in Virginia; Walker in
Pennsylvania; Prentiss in Maine; Davis in Kentucky. In 1861 the State
was but forty-four years old, younger than its most illustrious sons--if
the paradox may be permitted. How could they think of it as an entity
existing in itself, antedating not only themselves but their traditions,
circumscribing them with its all-embracing, indisputable reality? These
men spoke the language of state rights. It is true that in politics,
combating the North, they used the political philosophy taught them by
South Carolina. But it was a mental weapon in political debate; it was
not for them an emotional fact.

And yet these men of the Southwest had an ideal of their own as vivid
and as binding as the state ideal of the men of the eastern coast.
Though half their leaders were born in the North, the people themselves
were overwhelmingly Southern. From all the older States, all round the
huge crescent which swung around from Kentucky coastwise to Florida,
immigration in the twenties and thirties had poured into Mississippi.
Consequently the new community presented a composite picture of the
whole South, and like all composite pictures it emphasized only the
factors common to all its parts. What all the South had in common, what
made a man a Southerner in the general sense--in distinction from a
Northerner on the one hand, or a Virginian, Carolinian, Georgian, on the
other--could have been observed with clearness in Mississippi, just
before the war, as nowhere else. Therefore, the fulfillment of the ideal
of Southern life in general terms was the vision of things hoped for by
the new men of the Southwest. The features of that vision were common to
them all--country life, broad acres, generous hospitality, an
aristocratic system. The temperaments of these men were sufficiently
buoyant to enable them to apprehend this ideal even before it had
materialized. Their romantic minds could see the gold at the end of the
rainbow. Theirs was not the pride of administering a well-ordered,
inherited system, but the joy of building a new system, in their minds
wholly elastic, to be sure, but still inspired by that old system.

What may be called the sense of Southern nationality as opposed to the
sense of state rights, strictly speaking, distinguished this brilliant
young community of the Southwest. In that community Davis spent the
years that appear to have been the most impressionable of his life.
Belonging to a "new" family just emerging into wealth, he began life as
a West Pointer and saw gallant service as a youth on the frontier;
resigned from the army to pursue a romantic attachment; came home to
lead the life of a wealthy planter and receive the impress of
Mississippi; made his entry into politics, still a soldier at heart,
with the philosophy of state rights on his lips, but in his heart that
sense of the Southern people as a new nation, which needed only the
occasion to make it the relentless enemy of the rights of the individual
Southern States. Add together the instinctive military point of view and
this Southern nationalism that even in 1861 had scarcely revealed
itself; join with these a fearless and haughty spirit, proud to the
verge of arrogance, but perfectly devoted, perfectly sincere; and you
have the main lines of the political character of Davis when he became
President. It may be that as he went forward in his great undertaking,
as antagonisms developed, as Rhett and others turned against him, Davis
hardened. He lost whatever comprehension he once had of the Rhett type.
Seeking to weld into one irresistible unit all the military power of the
South, he became at last in the eyes of his opponents a monster, while
to him, more and more positively, the others became mere dreamers.

It took about a year for this irrepressible conflict within the
Confederacy to reveal itself. During the twelve months following Davis's
election as provisional President, he dominated the situation, though
the Charleston Mercury, the Rhett organ, found opportunities to be
sharply critical of the President. He assembled armies; he initiated
heroic efforts to make up for the handicap of the South in the
manufacture of munitions and succeeded in starting a number of munition
plants; though powerless to prevent the establishment of the blockade,
he was able during that first year to keep in touch with Europe, to
start out Confederate privateers upon the high seas, and to import a
considerable quantity of arms and supplies. At the close of the year the
Confederate armies were approaching general efficiency, for all their
enormous handicap, almost if not quite as rapidly as were the Union
armies. And the one great event of the year on land, the first battle of
Manassas, or Bull Run, was a signal Confederate victory.

To be sure Davis was severely criticized in some quarters for not
adopting an aggressive policy. The Confederate Government, whether
wisely or foolishly, had not taken the people into its confidence and
the lack of munitions was not generally appreciated. The easy popular
cries were all sounded: "We are standing still!" "The country is being
invaded!" "The President is a do-nothing!" From the coast regions
especially, where the blockade was felt in all its severity, the outcry
was loud.

Nevertheless, the South in the main was content with the Administration
during most of the first year. In November, when the general elections
were held, Davis was chosen without opposition as the first regular
Confederate President for six years, and Stephens became the
Vice-President. The election was followed by an important change in the
Southern Cabinet. Benjamin became Secretary of War, in succession to the
first War Secretary, Leroy P. Walker. Toombs had already left the
Confederate Cabinet. Complaining that Davis degraded him to the level of
a mere clerk, he had withdrawn the previous July. His successor in the
State Department was R. M. T. Hunter of Virginia, who remained in office
until February, 1862, when his removal to the Confederate Senate opened
the way for a further advancement of Benjamin.

Richmond, which had been designated as the capital soon after the
secession of Virginia, was the scene of the inauguration, on February
22, 1862. Although the weather proved bleak and rainy, an immense crowd
gathered around the Washington monument, in Capitol Square, to listen to
the inaugural address. By this time the confidence in the Government,
which was felt generally at the time of the election, had suffered a
shock. Foreign affairs were not progressing satisfactorily. Though
England had accorded to the Confederacy the status of a belligerent,
this was poor consolation for her refusal to make full recognition of
the new Government as an independent power. Dread of internal distress
was increasing. Gold commanded a premium of fifty per cent. Disorder was
a feature of the life in the cities. It was known that several recent
military events had been victories for the Federals. A rumor was abroad
that some great disaster had taken place in Tennessee. The crowd
listened anxiously to hear the rumor denied by the President. But it was
not denied. The tense listeners noted two sentences which formed an
admission that the situation was grave: "A million men, it is estimated,
are now standing in hostile array and waging war along a frontier of
thousands of miles. Battles have been fought, sieges have been
conducted, and although the contest is not ended, and the tide for the
moment is against us, the final result in our favor is not doubtful."

Behind these carefully guarded words lay serious alarm, not only with
regard to the operations at the front but as to the composition of the
army. It had been raised under various laws and its portions were
subject to conflicting classifications; it was partly a group of state
armies, partly a single Confederate army. None of its members had
enlisted for long terms. Many enlistments would expire early in 1862.
The fears of the Confederate Administration with regard to this matter,
together with its alarm about the events at the front, were expressed by
Davis in a frank message to the Southern Congress, three days later. "I
have hoped," said he, "for several days to receive official reports in
relation to our discomfiture at Roanoke Island and the fall of Fort
Donelson. They have not yet reached me.... The hope is still entertained
that our reported losses at Fort Donelson have been greatly
exaggerated...." He went on to condemn the policy of enlistments for
short terms, "against which," said he, "I have steadily contended"; and
he enlarged upon the danger that even patriotic men, who intended to
reënlist, might go home to put their affairs in order and that thus, at
a critical moment, the army might be seriously reduced. The accompanying
report of the Confederate Secretary of War showed a total in the army of
340,250 men. This was an inadequate force with which to meet the great
hosts which were being organized against it in the North. To permit the
slightest reduction of the army at that moment seemed to the Southern
President suicidal.

But Davis waited some time longer before proposing to the Confederate
Congress the adoption of conscription. Meanwhile, the details of two
great reverses, the loss of Roanoke Island and the loss of Fort
Donelson, became generally known. Apprehension gathered strength.
Newspapers began to discuss conscription as something inevitable. At
last, on March 28, 1862, Davis sent a message to the Confederate
Congress advising the conscription of all white males between the ages
of eighteen and thirty-five. For this suggestion Congress was ripe, and
the first Conscription Act of the Confederacy was signed by the
President on the 16th of April. The age of eligibility was fixed as
Davis had advised; the term of service was to be three years; every one
then in service was to be retained in service during three years from
the date of his original enlistment.

This statute may be thought of as a great victory on the part of the
Administration. It was the climax of a policy of centralization in the
military establishment to which Davis had committed himself by the veto,
in January, of "A bill to authorize the Secretary of War to receive into
the service of the Confederate States a regiment of volunteers for the
protection of the frontier of Texas." This regiment was to be under the
control of the Governor of the State. In refusing to accept such troops,
Davis laid down the main proposition upon which he stood as military
executive to the end of the war, a proposition which immediately set
debate raging: "Unity and cooperation by the troops of all the States
are indispensable to success, and I must view with regret this as well
as all other indications of a purpose to divide the power of States by
dividing the means to be employed in efforts to carry on separate

In these military measures of the early months of 1862 Davis's purpose
became clear. He was bent upon instituting a strong government, able to
push the war through, and careless of the niceties of constitutional law
or of the exact prerogatives of the States. His position was expressed
in the course of the year by a Virginia newspaper: "It will be time
enough to distract the councils of the State about imaginary violations
of constitutional law by the supreme government when our independence is
achieved, established, and acknowledged. It will not be until then that
the sovereignty of the States will be a reality." But there were many
Southerners who could not accept this point of view. The Mercury was
sharply critical of the veto of the Texas Regiment Bill. In the interval
between the Texas veto and the passing of the Conscription Act, the
state convention of North Carolina demanded the return of North Carolina
volunteers for the defense of their own State. No sooner was the
Conscription Act passed than its constitutionality was attacked. As the
Confederacy had no Supreme Court, the question came up before state
courts. One after another, several state supreme courts pronounced the
act constitutional and in most of the States the constitutional issue
was gradually allowed to lapse.

Nevertheless, Davis had opened Pandora's box. The clash between State
and Confederate authority had begun. An opposition party began to form.
In this first stage of its definite existence, the opposition made an
interesting attempt to control the Cabinet. Secretary Benjamin, though
greatly trusted by the President, seems never to have been a popular
minister. Congress attempted to load upon Benjamin the blame for Roanoke
Island and Fort Donelson. In the House a motion was introduced to the
effect that Benjamin had "not the confidence of the people of the
Confederate States nor of the army ... and that we most respectfully
request his retirement" from the office of Secretary of War. Friends of
the Administration tabled the motion. Davis extricated his friend by
taking advantage of Hunter's retirement and promoting Benjamin to the
State Department. A month later a congressional committee appointed to
investigate the affair of Roanoke Island exonerated the officer in
command and laid the blame on his superiors, including "the late
Secretary of War."

With Benjamin safe in the Department of State, with the majority in the
Confederate Congress still fairly manageable, with the Conscription Act
in force, Davis seemed to be strong enough in the spring of 1862 to
ignore the gathering opposition. And yet there was another measure,
second only in the President's eyes to the Conscription Act, that was to
breed trouble. This was the first of the series of acts empowering him
to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Under this act he
was permitted to set up martial law in any district threatened with
invasion. The cause of this drastic measure was the confusion and the
general demoralization that existed wherever the close approach of the
enemy created a situation too complex for the ordinary civil
authorities. Davis made use of the power thus given to him and
proclaimed martial law in Richmond, in Norfolk, in parts of South
Carolina, and elsewhere. It was on Richmond that the hand of the
Administration fell heaviest. The capital was the center of a great
camp; its sudden and vast increase in population had been the signal for
all the criminal class near and far to hurry thither in the hope of a
new field of spoliation; to deal with this immense human congestion, the
local police were powerless; every variety of abominable contrivance to
entrap and debauch men for a price was in brazen operation. The first
care of the Government under the new law was the cleansing of the
capital. General John H. Winder, appointed military governor, did the
job with thoroughness. He closed the barrooms, disarmed the populace,
and for the time at least swept the city clean of criminals. The
Administration also made certain political arrests, and even imprisoned
some extreme opponents of the Government for "offenses not enumerated
and not cognizable under the regular process of law." Such arrests gave
the enemies of the Administration another handle against it. As we shall
see later, the use that Davis made of martial law was distorted by a
thousand fault-finders and was made the basis of the charge that the
President was aiming at absolute power.

At the moment, however, Davis was master of the situation. The six
months following April 1, 1862, were doubtless, from his own point of
view, the most satisfactory part of his career as Confederate President.
These months were indeed filled with peril. There was a time when
McClellan's advance up the Peninsula appeared so threatening that the
archives of the Government were packed on railway cars prepared for
immediate removal should evacuation be necessary. There were the other
great disasters during that year, including the loss of New Orleans. The
President himself experienced a profound personal sorrow in the death of
his friend, Albert Sidney Johnston, in the bloody fight at Shiloh. It
was in the midst of this time that tried men's souls that the Richmond
Examiner achieved an unenvied immortality for one of its articles on the
Administration. At a moment when nothing should have been said to
discredit in any way the struggling Government, it described Davis as
weak with fear telling his beads in a corner of St. Paul's Church. This
paper, along with the Charleston Mercury, led the Opposition. Throughout
Confederate history these two, which were very ably edited, did the
thinking for the enemies of Davis. We shall meet them time and again.

A true picture of Davis would have shown the President resolute and
resourceful, at perhaps the height of his powers. He recruited and
supplied the armies; he fortified Richmond; he sustained the great
captain whom he had placed in command while McClellan was at the gates.
When the tide had turned and the Army of the Potomac sullenly withdrew,
baffled, there occurred the one brief space in Confederate history that
was pure sunshine. In this period took place the splendid victory of
Second Manassas. The strong military policy of the Administration had
given the Confederacy powerful armies. Lee had inspired them with
victory. This period of buoyant hope culminated in the great offensive
design which followed Second Manassas. It was known that the Northern
people, or a large part of them, had suffered a reaction; the tide was
setting strong against the Lincoln Government; in the autumn, the
Northern elections would be held. To influence those elections and at
the same time to drive the Northern armies back into their own section;
to draw Maryland and Kentucky into the Confederate States; to fall upon
the invaders in the Southwest and recover the lower Mississippi--to
accomplish all these results was the confident expectation of the
President and his advisers as they planned their great triple offensive
in August, 1862. Lee was to invade Maryland; Bragg was to invade
Kentucky; Van Dorn was to break the hold of the Federals in the
Southwest. If there is one moment that is to be considered the climax of
Davis's career, the high-water mark of Confederate hope, it was the
moment of joyous expectation when the triple offensive was launched,
when Lee's army, on a brilliant autumn day, crossed the Potomac, singing
Maryland, my Maryland.


The Fall Of King Cotton

While the Confederate Executive was building up its military
establishment, the Treasury was struggling with the problem of paying
for it. The problem was destined to become insoluble. From the
vantage-point of a later time we can now see that nothing could have
provided a solution short of appropriation and mobilization of the whole
industrial power of the country along with the whole military power--a
conscription of wealth of every kind together with conscription of men.
But in 1862 such an idea was too advanced for any group of Americans.
Nor, in that year, was there as yet any certain evidence that the
Treasury was facing an impossible situation. Its endeavors were taken
lightly--at first, almost gaily--because of the profound illusion which
permeated Southern thought that Cotton was King.

Obviously, if the Southern ports could be kept open and cotton could
continue to go to market, the Confederate financial problem was not
serious. When Davis, soon after his first inauguration, sent Yancey,
Rost, and Mann as commissioners to Europe to press the claims of the
Confederacy for recognition, very few Southerners had any doubt that the
blockade would be short-lived. "Cotton is King" was the answer that
silenced all questions. Without American cotton the English mills would
have to shut down; the operatives would starve; famine and discontent
would between them force the British ministry to intervene in American
affairs. There were, indeed, a few far-sighted men who perceived that
this confidence was ill-based and that cotton, though it was a power in
the financial world, was not the commercial king. The majority of the
population, however, had to learn this truth from keen experience.

Several events of 1861 for a time seemed to confirm this illusion. The
Queen's proclamation in the spring, giving the Confederacy the status of
a belligerent, and, in the autumn, the demand by the British Government
for the surrender of the commissioners, Mason and Slidell, who had been
taken from a British packet by a Union cruiser--both these events seemed
to indicate active British sympathy. In England, to be sure, Yancey
became disillusioned. He saw that the international situation was not so
simple as it seemed; that while the South had powerful friends abroad,
it also had powerful foes; that the British anti-slavery party was a
more formidable enemy than he had expected it to be; and that
intervention was not a foregone conclusion. The task of an unrecognized
ambassador being too annoying for him, Yancey was relieved at his own
request and Mason was sent out to take his place. A singular little
incident like a dismal prophecy occurred as Yancey was on his way home.
He passed through Havana early in 1862, when the news of the surrender
of Fort Donelson had begun to stagger the hopes and impair the prestige
of the Confederates. By the advice of the Confederate agent in Cuba,
Yancey did not call on the Spanish Governor but sent him word that
"delicacy alone prompted his departure without the gratification of a
personal interview." The Governor expressed himself as "exceedingly
grateful for the noble sentiment which prevented" Yancey from causing
international complications at Havana.

The history of the first year of Confederate foreign affairs is
interwoven with the history of Confederate finance. During that year the
South became a great buyer in Europe. Arms, powder, cloth, machinery,
medicines, ships, a thousand things, had all to be bought abroad. To
establish the foreign credit of the new Government was the arduous task
of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury, Christopher G. Memminger.
The first great campaign of the war was not fought by armies. It was a
commercial campaign fought by agents of the Federal and Confederate
governments and having for its aim the cornering of the munitions market
in Europe. In this campaign the Federal agents had decisive advantages:
their credit was never questioned, and their enormous purchases were
never doubtful ventures for the European sellers. In some cases their
superior credit enabled them to overbid the Confederate agents and to
appropriate large contracts which the Confederates had negotiated but
which they could not hold because of the precariousness of their credit.
And yet, all things considered, the Confederate agents made a good
showing. In the report of the Secretary of War in February, 1862, the
number of rifles contracted for abroad was put at 91,000, of which
15,000 had been delivered. The chief reliance of the Confederate
Treasury for its purchases abroad was at first the specie in the
Southern branch of the United States Mint and in Southern banks. The
former the Confederacy seized and converted to its own use. Of the
latter it lured into its own hands a very large proportion by what is
commonly called "the fifteen million loan"--an issue of eight per cent
bonds authorized in February, 1861. Most of this specie seems to have
been taken out of the country by the purchase of European commodities. A
little, to be sure, remained, for there was some gold still at home when
the Confederacy fell. But the sum was small.

In addition to this loan Memminger also persuaded Congress on August 19,
1861, to lay a direct tax--the "war tax," as it was called--of one-half
of one per cent on all property except Confederate bonds and money. As
required by the Constitution this tax was apportioned among the States,
but if it assumed its assessment before April 1, 1862, each State was to
have a reduction of ten per cent. As there was a general aversion to the
idea of Confederate taxation and a general faith in loans, what the
States did, as a rule, was to assume their assessment, agree to pay it
into the Treasury, and then issue bonds to raise the necessary funds,
thus converting the war tax into a loan.

The Confederate, like the Union, Treasury did not have the courage to
force the issue upon taxation and leaned throughout the war largely upon
loans. It also had recourse to the perilous device of paper money, the
gold value of which was not guaranteed. Beginning in March, 1861, it
issued under successive laws great quantities of paper notes, some of
them interest bearing, some not. It used these notes in payment of its
domestic obligations. The purchasing value of the notes soon started on
a disastrous downward course, and in 1864 the gold dollar was worth
thirty paper dollars. The Confederate Government thus became involved in
a problem of self-preservation that was but half solved by the system of
tithes and impressment which we shall encounter later. The depreciation
of these notes left governmental clerks without adequate salaries and
soldiers without the means of providing for their families. During most
of the war, women and other noncombatants had to support the families or
else rely upon local charity organized by state or county boards.

Long before all the evils of paper money were experienced, the North,
with great swiftness, concentrated its naval forces so as to dominate
the Southern ports which had trade relations with Europe. The shipping
ports were at once congested with cotton to the great embarrassment of
merchants and planters. Partly to relieve them, the Confederate Congress
instituted in May, 1861, what is known today as "the hundred million
loan." It was the first of a series of "produce loans." The Treasury was
authorized to issue eight per cent bonds, to fall due in twenty years,
and to sell them for specie or to exchange them for produce or
manufactured articles. In the course of the remaining months of 1861
there were exchanged for these bonds great quantities of produce
including some 400,000 bales of cotton.

In spite of the distress of the planters, however, the illusion of King
Cotton's power does not seem to have been seriously impaired during
1861. In fact, strange as it now seems, the frame of mind of the leaders
appears to have been proof, that year, against alarm over the blockade.
For two reasons, the Confederacy regarded the blockade at first as a
blessing in disguise. It was counted on to act as a protective tariff in
stimulating manufactures; and at the same time the South expected
interruption of the flow of cotton towards Europe to make England feel
her dependence upon the Confederacy. In this way there would be exerted
an economic coercion which would compel intervention. Such reasoning lay
behind a law passed in May forbidding the export of cotton except
through the seaports of the Confederacy. Similar laws were enacted by
the States. During the summer, many cotton factors joined in advising
the planters to hold their cotton until the blockade broke down. In the
autumn, the Governor of Louisiana forbade the export of cotton from New
Orleans. So unshakeable was the illusion in 1861, that King Cotton had
England in his grip! The illusion died hard. Throughout 1862, and even
in 1863, the newspapers published appeals to the planters to give up
growing cotton for a time, and even to destroy what they had, so as to
coerce the obdurate Englishmen.

Meanwhile, Mason had been accorded by the British upper classes that
generous welcome which they have always extended to the representative
of a people fighting gallantly against odds. During the hopeful days of
1862--that Golden Age of Confederacy--Mason, though not recognized by
the English Government, was shown every kindness by leading members of
the aristocracy, who visited him in London and received him at their
houses in the country. It was during this period of buoyant hope that
the Alabama was allowed to go to sea from Liverpool in July, 1862. At
the same time Mason heard his hosts express undisguised admiration for
the valor of the soldiers serving under Jackson and Lee. Whether he
formed any true impression of the other side of British idealism, its
resolute opposition to slavery, may be questioned. There seems little
doubt that he did not perceive the turning of the tide of English public
opinion, in the autumn of 1862, following the Emancipation Proclamation
and the great reverses of September and October--Antietam-Sharpsburg,
Perryville, Corinth--the backflow of all three of the Confederate

The cotton famine in England, where perhaps a million people were in
actual want through the shutting down of cotton mills, seemed to Mason
to be "looming up in fearful proportions." "The public mind," he wrote
home in November, 1862, "is very much disturbed by the prospect for the
winter; and I am not without hope that it will produce its effects on
the councils of the government."

Yet it was the uprising of the British working people in favor of the
North that contributed to defeat the one important attempt to intervene
in American affairs. Napoleon III had made an offer of mediation which
was rejected by the Washington Government early the next year. England
and Russia had both declined to participate in Napoleon's scheme, and
their refusal marks the beginning of the end of the reign of King

At Paris, Slidell was even more hopeful than Mason. He had won over
Émile Erlanger, that great banker who was deep in the confidence of
Napoleon. So cordial became the relations between the two that it
involved their families and led at last to the marriage of Erlanger's
son with Slidell's daughter. Whether owing to Slidell's eloquence, or
from secret knowledge of the Emperor's designs, or from his own
audacity, Erlanger toward the close of 1862 made a proposal that is one
of the most daring schemes of financial plunging yet recorded. If the
Confederate Government would issue to him bonds secured by cotton,
Erlanger would underwrite the bonds, put the proceeds of their sale to
the credit of the Confederate agents, and wait for the cotton until it
could run the blockade or until peace should be declared. The
Confederate Government after some hesitation accepted his plan and
issued fifteen millions of "Erlanger bonds," bearing seven per cent, and
put them on sale at Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Frankfort.

As a purchaser of these bonds was to be given cotton eventually at a
valuation of sixpence a pound, and as cotton was then selling in England
for nearly two shillings, the bold gamble caught the fancy of
speculators. There was a rush to take up the bonds and to pay the first
installment. But before the second installment became due a mysterious
change in the market took place and the price of the bonds fell. Holders
became alarmed and some even proposed to forfeit their bonds rather than
pay on May 1, 1863, the next installment of fifteen per cent of the
purchase money. Thereupon Mason undertook to "bull" the market. Agents
of the United States Government were supposed to be at the bottom of the
drop in the bonds. To defeat their schemes the Confederate agents bought
back large amounts in bonds intending to resell. The result was the
expenditure of some six million dollars with practically no effect on
the market. These "Erlanger bonds" sold slowly through 1863 and even in
1864, and netted a considerable amount to the foreign agents of the

The comparative failure of the Erlanger loan marks the downfall of King
Cotton. He was an exploded superstition. He was unable, despite the
cotton famine, to coerce the English workingmen into siding with a
country which they regarded, because of its support of slavery, as
inimical to their interests. At home, the Government confessed the
powerlessness of King Cotton by a change of its attitude toward export.
During the latter part of the war, the Government secured the meager
funds at its disposal abroad by rushing cotton in swift ships through
the blockade. So important did this traffic become that the Confederacy
passed stringent laws to keep the control in its own hands. One more
cause of friction between the Confederate and the State authorities was
thus developed: the Confederate navigation laws prevented the States
from running the blockade on their own account.

The effects of the blockade were felt at the ends of the earth. India
became an exporter of cotton. Egypt also entered the competition. That
singular dreamer, Ismail Pasha, whose reign made Egypt briefly an exotic
nation, neither eastern nor western, found one of his opportunities in
the American War and the failure of the cotton supply.


The Reaction Against Richmond

A popular revulsion of feeling preceded and followed the great period of
Confederate history--these six months of Titanic effort which embraced
between March and September, 1862, splendid success along with
catastrophes. But there was a marked difference between the two tides of
popular emotion. The wave of alarm which swept over the South after the
surrender of Fort Donelson was quickly translated into such a high
passion for battle that the march of events until the day of Antietam
resounded like an epic. The failure of the triple offensive which closed
this period was followed in very many minds by the appearance of a new
temper, often as valiant as the old but far more grim and deeply seamed
with distrust. And how is this distrust, of which the Confederate
Administration was the object, to be accounted for?

Various answers to this question were made at the time. The laws of the
spring of 1862 were attacked as unconstitutional. Davis was held
responsible for them and also for the slow equipment of the army.
Because the Confederate Congress conducted much of its business in
secret session, the President was charged with a love of mystery and an
unwillingness to take the people into his confidence. Arrests under the
law suspending the writ of habeas corpus were made the texts for
harangues on liberty. The right of freedom of speech was dragged in when
General Van Dorn, in the Southwest, threatened with suppression any
newspaper that published anything which might impair confidence in a
commanding officer. How could he have dared to do this, was the cry,
unless the President was behind him? And when General Bragg assumed a
similar attitude toward the press, the same cry was raised. Throughout
the summer of victories, even while the thrilling stories of Seven
Pines, the Peninsula, Second Manassas, were sounding like trumpets,
these mutterings of discontent formed an ominous accompaniment.

Yancey, speaking of the disturbed temper of the time, attributed it to
the general lack of information on the part of Southern people as to
what the Confederate Government was doing. His proposed remedy was an
end of the censorship which that Government was attempting to maintain,
the abandonment of the secret sessions of its Congress, and the taking
of the people into its full confidence. Now a Senator from Alabama, he
attempted, at the opening of the congressional session in the autumn of
1862, to abolish secret sessions, but in his efforts he was not

There seems little doubt that the Confederate Government had blundered
in being too secretive. Even from Congress, much information was
withheld. A curious incident has preserved what appeared to the military
mind the justification of this reticence. The Secretary of War refused
to comply with a request for information, holding that he could not do
so "without disclosing the strength of our armies to many persons of
subordinate position whose secrecy cannot be relied upon." "I beg leave
to remind you," said he, "of a report made in response to a similar one
from the Federal Congress, communicated to them in secret session, and
now a part of our archives."

How much the country was in the dark with regard to some vital matters
is revealed by an attack on the Confederate Administration which was
made by the Charleston Mercury, in February. The Southern Government was
accused of unpardonable slowness in sending agents to Europe to purchase
munitions. In point of fact, the Confederate Government had been more
prompt than the Union Government in rushing agents abroad. But the
country was not permitted to know this. Though the Courier was a
government organ in Charleston, it did not meet the charges of the
Mercury by disclosing the facts about the arduous attempts of the
Confederate Government to secure arms in Europe. The reply of the
Courier to the Mercury, though spirited, was all in general terms. "To
shake confidence in Jefferson Davis," said the Courier, "is ... to bring
'hideous ruin and combustion' down upon our dearest hopes and
interests." It made "Mr. Davis and his defensive policy" objects of all
admiration; called Davis "our Moses." It was deeply indignant because it
had been "reliably informed that men of high official position among us"
were "calling for a General Convention of the Confederate States to
depose him and set up a military Dictator in his place." The Mercury
retorted that, as to the plot against "our Moses," there was no evidence
of its existence except the Courier's assertion. Nevertheless, it
considered Davis "an incubus to the cause." The controversy between the
Mercury and the Courier at Charleston was paralleled at Richmond by the
constant bickering between the government organ, the Enquirer, and the
Examiner, which shares with the Mercury the first place among the
newspapers hostile to Davis. ¹

¹ The Confederate Government did not misapprehend the attitude of the
intellectual opposition. Its foreign organ, The Index, published in
London, characterized the leading Southern papers for the enlightenment
of the British public. While the Enquirer and the Courier were singled
out as the great champions of the Confederate Government, the Examiner
and the Mercury were portrayed as its arch enemies. The Examiner was
called the "Ishmael of the Southern press." The Mercury was described as
"almost rabid on the subject of state rights."

Associated with the Examiner was a vigorous writer having considerable
power of the old-fashioned, furious sort, ever ready to foam at the
mouth. If he had had more restraint and less credulity, Edward A.
Pollard might have become a master of the art of vituperation. Lacking
these qualities, he never rose far above mediocrity. But his fury was so
determined and his prejudice so invincible that his writings have
something of the power of conviction which fanaticism wields. In
midsummer, 1862, Pollard published a book entitled The First Year of the
War, which was commended by his allies in Charleston as showing no
"tendency toward unfairness of statement" and as expressing views
"mainly in accordance with popular opinion."

This book, while affecting to be an historical review, was skillfully
designed to discredit the Confederate Administration. Almost every
disaster, every fault of its management was traceable more or less
directly to Davis. Kentucky had been occupied by the Federal army
because of the "dull expectation" in which the Confederate Government
had stood aside waiting for things somehow to right themselves. The
Southern Congress had been criminally slow in coming to conscription,
contenting itself with an army of 400,000 men that existed "on paper."
"The most distressing abuses were visible in the ill-regulated hygiene
of our camps." According to this book, the Confederate Administration
was solely to blame for the loss of Roanoke Island. In calling that
disaster "deeply humiliating," as he did in a message to Congress, Davis
was trying to shield his favorite Benjamin at the cost of gallant
soldiers who had been sacrificed through his incapacity. Davis's
promotion of Benjamin to the State Department was an act of "ungracious
and reckless defiance of popular sentiment." The President was "not the
man to consult the sentiment and wisdom of the people; he desired to
signalize the infallibility of his own intellect in every measure of the
revolution and to identify, from motives of vanity, his own personal
genius with every event and detail of the remarkable period of history
in which he had been called upon to act. This imperious conceit seemed
to swallow up every other idea in his mind." The generals "fretted under
this pragmatism" of one whose "vanity" directed the war "from his
cushioned seat in Richmond" by means of the one formula, "the defensive

One of Pollard's chief accusations against the Confederate Government
was its failure to enforce the conscription law. His paper, the
Examiner, as well as the Mercury, supported Davis in the policy of
conscription, but both did their best, first, to rob him of the credit
for it and, secondly, to make his conduct of the policy appear
inefficient. Pollard claimed for the Examiner the credit of having
originated the policy of conscription; the Mercury claimed it for Rhett.

In other words, an aggressive war party led by the Examiner and the
Mercury had been formed in those early days when the Confederate
Government appeared to be standing wholly on the defensive, and when it
had failed to confide to the people the extenuating circumstance that
lack of arms compelled it to stand still whether it would or no. And
yet, after this Government had changed its policy and had taken up in
the summer of 1862 an offensive policy, this party--or faction, or what
you will--continued its career of opposition. That the secretive habit
of the Confederate Government helped cement the opposition cannot be
doubted. It is also likely that this opposition gave a vent to certain
jealous spirits who had missed the first place in leadership.

Furthermore, the issue of state sovereignty had been raised. In Georgia
a movement had begun which was distinctly different from the
Virginia-Carolina movement of opposition, a movement for which Rhett and
Pollard had scarcely more than disdainful tolerance, and not always
that. This parallel opposition found vent, as did the other, in a
political pamphlet. On the subject of conscription Davis and the
Governor of Georgia--that same Joseph E. Brown who had seized Fort
Pulaski in the previous year--exchanged a rancorous correspondence.
Their letters were published in a pamphlet of which Pollard said
scornfully that it was hawked about in every city of the South. Brown,
taking alarm at the power given the Confederate Government by the
Conscription Act, eventually defined his position, and that of a large
following, in the extreme words: "No act of the Government of the United
States prior to the secession of Georgia struck a blow at constitutional
liberty so fell as has been stricken by the conscript acts."

There were other elements of discontent which were taking form as early
as the autumn of 1862 but which were not yet clearly defined. But the
two obvious sources of internal criticism just described were enough to
disquiet the most resolute administration. When the triple offensive
broke down, when the ebb-tide began, there was already everything that
was needed to precipitate a political crisis. And now the question
arises whether the Confederate Administration had itself to blame. Had
Davis proved inadequate in his great undertaking?

The one undeniable mistake of the Government previous to the autumn of
1862 was its excessive secrecy. As to the other mistakes attributed to
it at the time, there is good reason to call them misfortunes. Today we
can see that the financial situation, the cotton situation, the
relations with Europe, the problem of equipping the armies, were all to
a considerable degree beyond the control of the Confederate Government.
If there is anything to be added to its mistaken secrecy as a definite
cause of irritation, it must be found in the general tone given to its
actions by its chief directors. And here there is something to be said.

With all his high qualities of integrity, courage, faithfulness, and
zeal, Davis lacked that insight into human life which marks the genius
of the supreme executive. He was not an artist in the use of men. He had
not that artistic sense of his medium which distinguishes the statesman
from the bureaucrat. In fact, he had a dangerous bent toward
bureaucracy. As Reuben Davis said of him, "Gifted with some of the
highest attributes of a statesman, he lacked the pliancy which enables a
man to adapt his measures to the crisis." Furthermore, he lacked humor;
there was no safety-valve to his intense nature; and he was a man of
delicate health. Mrs. Davis, describing the effects which nervous
dyspepsia and neuralgia had upon him, says he would come home from his
office "fasting, a mere mass of throbbing nerves, and perfectly
exhausted." And it cannot be denied that his mind was dogmatic. Here are
dangerous lines for the character of a leader of revolution--the
bureaucratic tendency, something of rigidity, lack of humor, physical
wretchedness, dogmatism. Taken together, they go far toward explaining
his failure in judging men, his irritable confidence in himself.

It is no slight detail of a man's career to be placed side by side with
a genius of the first rank without knowing it. But Davis does not seem
ever to have appreciated that the man commanding in the Seven Days'
Battles was one of the world's supreme characters. The relation between
Davis and Lee was always cordial, and it brought out Davis's character
in its best light. Nevertheless, so rooted was Davis's faith in his own
abilities that he was capable of saying, at a moment of acutest anxiety,
"If I could take one wing and Lee the other, I think we could between us
wrest a victory from those people." And yet, his military experience
embraced only the minor actions of a young officer on the Indian
frontier and the gallant conduct of a subordinate in the Mexican War. He
had never executed a great military design. His desire for the military
life was, after all, his only ground for ranking himself with the victor
of Second Manassas. Davis was also unfortunate in lacking the power to
overcome men and sweep them along with him--the power Lee showed so
conspicuously. Nor was Davis averse to sharp reproof of the highest
officials when he thought them in the wrong. He once wrote to Joseph E.
Johnston that a letter of his contained "arguments and statements
utterly unfounded" and "insinuations as unfounded as they were

Davis was not always wise in his choice of men. His confidence in Bragg,
who was long his chief military adviser, is not sustained by the
military critics of a later age. His Cabinet, though not the
contemptible body caricatured by the malice of Pollard, was not equal to
the occasion. Of the three men who held the office of Secretary of
State, Toombs and Hunter had little if any qualification for such a
post, while the third, Benjamin, is the sphinx of Confederate history.

In a way, Judah P. Benjamin is one of the most interesting men in
American politics. By descent a Jew, born in the West Indies, he spent
his boyhood mainly at Charleston and his college days at Yale. He went
to New Orleans to begin his illustrious career as a lawyer, and from
Louisiana entered politics. The facile keenness of his intellect is
beyond dispute. He had the Jewish clarity of thought, the wonderful
Jewish detachment in matters of pure mind. But he was also an American
of the middle of the century. His quick and responsive nature--a nature
that enemies might call simulative--caught and reflected the
characteristics of that singular and highly rhetorical age. He lives in
tradition as the man of the constant smile, and yet there is no one in
history whose state papers contain passages of fiercer violence in days
of tension. How much of his violence was genuine, how much was a manner
of speaking, his biographers have not had the courage to determine. Like
so many American biographers they have avoided the awkward questions and
have glanced over, as lightly as possible, the persistent attempts of
Congress to drive him from office.

Nothing could shake the resolution of Davis to retain Benjamin in the
Cabinet. Among Davis's loftiest qualities was his sense of personal
loyalty. Once he had given his confidence, no amount of opposition could
shake his will but served rather to harden him. When Benjamin as
Secretary of War passed under a cloud, Davis led him forth resplendent
as Secretary of State. Whether he was wise in doing so, whether the
opposition was not justified in its distrust of Benjamin, is still an
open question. What is certain is that both these able men, even before
the crisis that arose in the autumn of 1862, had rendered themselves and
their Government widely unpopular. It must never be forgotten that Davis
entered office without the backing of any definite faction. He was a
"dark horse," a compromise candidate. To build up a stanch following, to
create enthusiasm for his Administration, was a prime necessity of his
first year as President. Yet he seems not to have realized this
necessity. Boldly, firmly, dogmatically, he gave his whole thought and
his entire energy to organizing the Government in such a way that it
could do its work efficiently. And therein may have been the proverbial
rift within the lute. To Davis statecraft was too much a thing of
methods and measures, too little a thing of men and passions.

During the autumn of 1862 and the following winter the disputes over the
conduct of the war began to subside and two other themes became
prominent: the sovereignty of the States, which appeared to be menaced
by the Government, and the personality of Davis, whom malcontents
regarded as a possible despot. Contrary to tradition, the first note of
alarm over state rights was not struck by its great apostle Rhett,
although the note was sounded in South Carolina in the early autumn.
There existed in this State at that time an extra assembly called the
"Convention," which had been organized in 1860 for the general purpose
of seeing the State through the "revolution." In the Convention, in
September, 1862, the question of a contest with the Confederate
Government on the subject of a state army was definitely raised. It was
proposed to organize a state army and to instruct the Legislature to
"take effectual measures to prevent the agents of the Confederate
Government from raising troops in South Carolina except by voluntary
enlistment or by applying to the Executive of the State to call out the
militia as by law organized, or some part of it to be mustered into the
Confederate service." This proposal brought about a sharp debate upon
the Confederate Government and its military policy. Rhett made a
remarkable address, which should of itself quiet forever the old tale
that he was animated in his opposition solely by the pique of a
disappointed candidate for the presidency. Though as sharp as ever
against the Government and though agreeing wholly with the spirit of the
state army plan, he took the ground that circumstances at the moment
rendered the organization of such an army inopportune. A year earlier he
would have strongly supported the plan. In fact, in opposition to Davis
he had at that time, he said, urged an obligatory army which the States
should be required to raise. The Confederate Administration, however,
had defeated his scheme. Since then the situation had changed and had
become so serious that now there was no choice but to submit to military
necessity. He regarded the general conscription law as "absolutely
necessary to save" the Confederacy "from utter devastation if not final
subjugation. Right or wrong, the policy of the Administration had left
us no other alternative...."

The dominant attitude in South Carolina in the autumn of 1862 is in
strong contrast, because of its firm grasp upon fact, with the attitude
of the Brown faction in Georgia. An extended history of the Confederate
movement--one of those vast histories that delight the recluse and scare
away the man of the world--would labor to build up images of what might
be called the personalities of the four States that continued from the
beginning to the end parts of the effective Confederate
system--Virginia, the two Carolinas, and Georgia. We are prone to forget
that the Confederacy was practically divided into separate units as
early as the capture of New Orleans by Farragut, but a great history of
the time would have a special and thrilling story of the conduct of the
detached western unit, the isolated world of Louisiana, Arkansas, and
Texas--the "Department of the Trans-Mississippi"--cut off from the main
body of the Confederacy and hemmed in between the Federal army and the
deep sea. Another group of States--Tennessee, Mississippi,
Alabama--became so soon, and remained so long, a debatable land, on
which the two armies fought, that they also had scant opportunity for
genuine political life. Florida, small and exposed, was absorbed in its
gallant achievement of furnishing to the armies a number of soldiers
larger than its voting population.

Thus, after the loss of New Orleans, one thing with another operated to
confine the area of full political life to Virginia and her three
neighbors to the South. And yet even among these States there was no
political solidarity or unanimity of opinion, for the differences in
their past experience, social structure, and economic conditions made
for distinct points of view. In South Carolina, particularly, the
prevailing view was that of experienced, disillusioned men who realized
from the start that secession had burnt their bridges, and that now they
must win the fight or change the whole current of their lives. In the
midst of the extraordinary conditions of war, they never talked as if
their problems were the problems of peace. Brown, on the other hand, had
but one way of reasoning--if we are to call it reasoning--and, with
Hannibal at the gates, talked as if the control of the situation were
still in his own hands.

While South Carolina, so grimly conscious of the reality of war and the
danger of internal discord, held off from the issue of state
sovereignty, the Brown faction in Georgia blithely pressed it home. A
bill for extending the conscription age which was heartily advocated by
the Mercury was as heartily condemned by Brown. To the President he
wrote announcing his continued opposition to a law which he declared
"encroaches upon the reserved rights of the State and strikes down her
sovereignty at a single blow." Though the Supreme Court of Georgia
pronounced the conscription acts constitutional, the Governor and his
faction did not cease to condemn them. Linton Stephens, as well as his
famous kinsman, took up the cudgels. In a speech before the Georgia
Legislature, in November, Linton Stephens borrowed almost exactly the
Governor's phraseology in denying the necessity for conscription, and
this continued to be the note of their faction throughout the war.
"Conscription checks enthusiasm," was ever their cry; "we are invincible
under a system of volunteering, we are lost with conscription."

Meanwhile the military authorities looked facts in the face and had a
different tale to tell. They complained that in various parts of the
country, especially in the mountain districts, they were unable to
obtain men. Lee reported that his army melted away before his eye and
asked for an increase of authority to compel stragglers to return. At
the same time Brown was quarreling with the Administration as to who
should name the officers of the Georgia troops. Zebulon B. Vance, the
newly elected Governor of North Carolina and an anti-Davis man, said to
the Legislature: "It is mortifying to find entire brigades of North
Carolina soldiers commanded by strangers, and in many cases our own
brave and war-worn colonels are made to give place to colonels from
distant States." In addition to such indications of discontent a vast
mass of evidence makes plain the opposition to conscription toward the
close of 1862 and the looseness of various parts of the military system.

It was a moment of intense excitement and of nervous strain. The country
was unhappy, for it had lost faith in the Government at Richmond. The
blockade was producing its effect. European intervention was receding
into the distance. One of the characteristics of the editorials and
speeches of this period is a rising tide of bitterness against England.
Napoleon's proposal in November to mediate, though it came to naught,
somewhat revived the hope of an eventual recognition of the Confederacy
but did not restore buoyancy to the people of the South. The
Emancipation Proclamation, though scoffed at as a cry of impotence, none
the less increased the general sense of crisis.

Worst of all, because of its immediate effect upon the temper of the
time, food was very scarce and prices had risen to indefensible heights.
The army was short of shoes. In the newspapers, as winter came on, were
to be found touching descriptions of Lee's soldiers standing barefoot in
the snow. A flippant comment of Benjamin's, that the shoes had probably
been traded for whiskey, did not tend to improve matters. Even though
short of supplies themselves, the people as a whole eagerly subscribed
to buy shoes for the army.

There was widespread and heartless speculation in the supplies. Months
previous the Courier had made this ominous editorial remark:
"Speculators and monopolists seem determined to force the people
everywhere to the full exercise of all the remedies allowed by law." In
August, 1862, the Governor of Florida wrote to the Florida delegation at
Richmond urging them to take steps to meet the "nefarious smuggling" of
speculators who charged extortionate prices. In September, he wrote
again begging for legislation to compel millers, tanners, and saltmakers
to offer their products at reasonable rates. As these men were exempt
from military duty because their labor was held to be a public service,
feeling against them ran high. Governor Vance proposed a state
convention to regulate prices for North Carolina and by proclamation
forbade the export of provisions in order to prevent the seeking of
exorbitant prices in other markets. Davis wrote to various Governors
urging them to obtain state legislation to reduce extortion in the food
business. In the provisioning of the army the Confederate Government had
recourse to impressment and the arbitrary fixing of prices. Though the
Attorney-General held this action to be constitutional, it led to sharp
contentions; and at length a Virginia court granted an injunction to a
speculator who had been paid by the Government for flour less than it
had cost him.

In an attempt to straighten out this tangled situation, the Confederate
Government began, late in 1862, by appointing as its new Secretary of
War, ¹ James A. Seddon of Virginia--at that time high in popular favor.
The Mercury hailed his advent with transparent relief, for no
appointment could have seemed to it more promising. Indeed, as the new
year (1863) opened the Mercury was in better humor with the
Administration than perhaps at any other time during the war. To the
President's message it gave praise that was almost cordial. This
amicable temper was short-lived, however, and three months later the
heavens had clouded again, for the Government had entered upon a course
that consolidated the opposition in anger and distrust.

¹ There were in all six Secretaries of War: Leroy P. Walker, until
September 16, 1861; Judah P. Benjamin, until March 18, 1862; George W.
Randolph, until November 17, 1862; Gustavus W. Smith (temporarily),
until November 21, 1862; James A. Seddon, until February 6, 1865;
General John C. Breckinridge.

Early in 1863 the Confederate Government presented to the country a
program in which the main features were three. Of these the two which
did not rouse immediate hostility in the party of the Examiner and the
Mercury were the Impressment Act of March, 1863 (amended by successive
acts), and the act known as the Tax in Kind, which was approved the
following month. Though the Impressment Act subsequently made vast
trouble for the Government, at the time of its passage its beneficial
effects were not denied. To it was attributed by the Richmond Whig the
rapid fall of prices in April, 1863. Corn went down at Richmond from $12
and $10 a bushel to $4.20, and flour dropped in North Carolina from $45
a barrel to $25. Under this act commissioners were appointed in each
State jointly by the Confederate President and the Governor with the
duty of fixing prices for government transactions and of publishing
every two months an official schedule of the prices to be paid by the
Government for the supplies which it impressed.

The new Tax Act attempted to provide revenues which should not be paid
in depreciated currency. With no bullion to speak of, the Confederate
Congress could not establish a circulating medium with even an
approximation to constant value. Realizing this situation, Memminger had
advised falling back on the ancient system of tithes and the support of
the Government by direct contributions of produce. After licensing a
great number of occupations and laying a property tax and an income tax,
the new law demanded a tenth of the produce of all farmers. On this law
the Mercury pronounced a benediction in an editorial on The Fall of
Prices, which it attributed to "the healthy influence of the tax bill
which has just become law." ¹

¹ The fall of prices was attributed by others to a funding act,--one of
several passed by the Confederate Congress--which, in March, 1863, aimed
by various devices to contract the volume of the currency. It was very
generally condemned, and it anticipated the yet more drastic measure,
the Funding Act of 1864, which will be described later.

Had these two measures been the whole program of the Government, the
congressional session of the spring of 1863 would have had a different
significance in Confederate history. But there was a third measure that
provoked a new attack on the Government. The gracious words of the
Mercury on the tax in kind came as an interlude in the midst of a bitter
controversy. An editorial of the 12th of March headed A Despotism over
the Confederate States Proposed in Congress amounted to a declaration of
war. From this time forward the opposition and the Government drew
steadily further and further apart and their antagonism grew steadily
more relentless.

What caused this irrevocable breach was a bill introduced into the House
by Ethelbert Barksdale of Mississippi, an old friend of President Davis.
This bill would have invested the President with authority to suspend
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in any part of the
Confederacy, whenever in his judgment such suspension was desirable. The
first act suspending the privilege of habeas corpus had long since
expired and applied only to such regions as were threatened with
invasion. It had served usefully under martial law in cleansing Richmond
of its rogues, and also had been in force at Charleston. The Mercury had
approved it and had exhorted its readers to take the matter sensibly as
an inevitable detail of war. Between that act and the act now proposed
the Mercury saw no similarity. Upon the merits of the question it fought
a furious journalistic duel with the Enquirer, the government organ at
Richmond, which insisted that President Davis would not abuse his power.
The Mercury replied that if he "were a second Washington, or an angel
upon earth, the degradation such a surrender of our rights implies would
still be abhorrent to every freeman." In retort the Enquirer pointed out
that a similar law had been enacted by another Congress with no bad
results. And in point of fact the Enquirer was right, for in October,
1862, after the expiration of the first act suspending the privilege of
the writ of habeas corpus, Congress passed a second giving to the
President the immense power which was now claimed for him again. This
second act was in force several months. Then the Mercury made the
astounding declaration that it had never heard of the second act, and
thereupon proceeded to attack the secrecy of the Administration with
renewed vigor.

On this issue of reviving the expired second Habeas Corpus Act, a battle
royal was fought in the Confederate Congress. The forces of the
Administration defended the new measure on the ground that various
regions were openly seditious and that conscription could not be
enforced without it. This argument gave a new text for the cry of
"despotism." The congressional leader of the opposition was Henry S.
Foote, once the rival of Davis in Mississippi and now a citizen of
Tennessee. Fierce, vindictive, sometimes convincing, always shrewd, he
was a powerful leader of the rough and ready, buccaneering sort. Under
his guidance the debate was diverted into a rancorous discussion of the
conduct of the generals in the execution of martial law. Foote pulled
out all the stops in the organ of political rhetoric and went in for a
chant royal of righteous indignation. The main object of this attack was
General Hindman and his doings in Arkansas. Those were still the days of
pamphleteering. Though General Albert Pike had written a severe pamphlet
condemning Hindman, to this pamphlet the Confederate Government had shut
its eyes. Foote, however, flourished it in the face of the House. He
thundered forth his belief that Hindman was worse even than the man most
detested in the South, than "beast Butler himself, for the latter is
only charged with persecuting and oppressing the avowed enemies of his
Government, while Hindman, if guilty as charged, has practised cruelties
unnumbered" on his people. Other representatives spoke in the same vein.
Baldwin of Virginia told harrowing tales of martial law in that State.
Barksdale attempted to retaliate, sarcastically reminding him of a
recent scene of riot and disorder which proved that martial law, in any
effective form, did not exist in Virginia. He alluded to a riot,
ostensibly for bread, in which an Amazonian woman had led a mob to the
pillaging of the Richmond jewelry shops, a riot which Davis himself had
quelled by meeting the rioters and threatening to fire upon them. But
sarcasm proved powerless against Foote. His climax was a lurid tale of a
soldier who while marching past his own house heard that his wife was
dying, who left the ranks for a last word with her, and who on rejoining
the command, "hoping to get permission to bury her," was shot as a
deserter. And there was no one on the Government benches to anticipate
Kipling and cry out "flat art!" Resolutions condemning martial law were
passed by a vote of 45 to 27.

Two weeks later the Mercury preached a burial sermon over the Barksdale
Bill, which had now been rejected by the House. Congress was about to
adjourn, and before it reassembled elections for the next House would be
held. "The measure is dead for the present," said the Mercury, "but
power is ever restive and prone to accumulate power; and if the war
continues, other efforts will doubtless be made to make the President a
Dictator. Let the people keep their eyes steadily fixed on their
representatives with respect to this vital matter; and should the effort
again be made to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, demand that a recorded
vote should show those who shall strike down their liberties."


The Critical Year

The great military events of the year 1863 have pushed out of men's
memories the less dramatic but scarcely less important civil events. To
begin with, in this year two of the greatest personalities in the South
passed from the political stage: in the summer Yancey died; and in the
autumn, Rhett went into retirement.

The ever malicious Pollard insists that Yancey's death was due
ultimately to a personal encounter with a Senator from Georgia on the
floor of the Senate. The curious may find the discreditable story
embalmed in the secret journal of the Senate, where are the various
motions designed to keep the incident from the knowledge of the world.
Whether it really caused Yancey's death is another question. However,
the moment of his passing has dramatic significance. Just as the battle
over conscription was fully begun, when the fear that the Confederate
Government had arrayed itself against the rights of the States had
definitely taken shape, when this dread had been reënforced by the alarm
over the suspension of habeas corpus, the great pioneer of the secession
movement went to his grave, despairing of the country he had failed to
lead. His death occurred in the same month as the Battle of Gettysburg,
at the very time when the Confederacy was dividing against itself.

The withdrawal of Rhett from active life was an incident of the
congressional elections. He had consented to stand for Congress in the
Third District of South Carolina but was defeated. The full explanation
of the vote is still to be made plain; it seems clear, however, that
South Carolina at this time knew its own mind quite positively. Five of
the six representatives returned to the Second Congress, including
Rhett's opponent, Lewis M. Ayer, had sat in the First Congress. The
subsequent history of the South Carolina delegation and of the State
Government shows that by 1863 South Carolina had become, broadly
speaking, on almost all issues an anti-Davis State. And yet the largest
personality and probably the ablest mind in the State was rejected as a
candidate for Congress. No character in American history is a finer
challenge to the biographer than this powerful figure of Rhett, who in
1861 at the supreme crisis of his life seemed the master of his world
and yet in every lesser crisis was a comparative failure. As in Yancey,
so in Rhett, there was something that fitted him to one great moment but
did not fit him to others. There can be little doubt that his defeat at
the polls of his own district deeply mortified him. He withdrew from
politics, and though he doubtless, through the editorship of one of his
sons, inspired the continued opposition of the Mercury to the
Government, Rhett himself hardly reappears in Confederate history except
for a single occasion during the debate a year later upon the burning
question of arming the slaves.

The year was marked by very bitter attacks upon President Davis on the
part of the opposition press. The Mercury revived the issue of the
conduct of the war which had for some time been overshadowed by other
issues. In the spring, to be sure, things had begun to look brighter,
and Chancellorsville had raised Lee's reputation to its zenith. The
disasters of the summer, Gettysburg and Vicksburg, were for a time
minimized by the Government and do not appear to have caused the alarm
which their strategic importance might well have created. But when in
the latter days of July the facts became generally known, the Mercury
arraigned the President's conduct of the war as "a vast complication of
incompetence and folly"; it condemned the whole scheme of the Northern
invasion and maintained that Lee should have stood on the defensive
while twenty or thirty thousand men were sent to the relief of
Vicksburg. These two ideas it bitterly reiterated and in August went so
far as to quote Macaulay's famous passage on Parliament's dread of a
decisive victory over Charles and to apply it to Davis in unrestrained
language that reminds one of Pollard.

Equally unrestrained were the attacks upon other items of the policy of
the Confederate Government. The Impressment Law began to be a target.
Farmers who were compelled to accept the prices fixed by the impressment
commissioners cried out that they were being ruined. Men of the stamp of
Toombs came to their assistance with railing accusations such as this:
"I have heard it said that we should not sacrifice liberty to
independence, but I tell you, my countrymen, that the two are
inseparable.... If we lose our liberty we shall lose our
independence.... I would rather see the whole country the cemetery of
freedom than the habitation of slaves." Protests which poured in upon
the Government insisted that the power to impress supplies did not carry
with it the power to fix prices. Worthy men, ridden by the traditional
ideas of political science and unable to modify these in the light of
the present emergency, wailed out their despair over the "usurpation" of

The tax in kind was denounced in the same vein. The licensing provisions
of this law and its income tax did not satisfy the popular imagination.
These provisions concerned the classes that could borrow. The classes
that could not borrow, that had no resources but their crops, felt that
they were being driven to the wall. The bitter saying went around that
it was "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight." As land and slaves
were not directly taxed, the popular discontent appeared to have ground
for its anger. Furthermore, it must never be forgotten that this was the
first general tax that the poor people of the South were ever conscious
of paying. To people who knew the tax-gatherer as little more than a
mythical being, he suddenly appeared like a malevolent creature who
swept off ruthlessly the tenth of their produce. It is not strange that
an intemperate reaction against the planters and their leadership
followed. The illusion spread that they were not doing their share of
the fighting; and as rich men were permitted to hire substitutes to
represent them in the army, this really baseless report was easily
propped up in the public mind with what appeared to be reason.

In North Carolina, where the peasant farmer was a larger political
factor than in any other State, this feeling against the Confederate
Government because of the tax in kind was most dangerous. In the course
of the summer, while the military fortunes of the Confederacy were
toppling at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, the North Carolina farmers in a
panic of self-preservation held numerous meetings of protest and
denunciation. They expressed their thoughtless terror in resolutions
asserting that the action of Congress "in secret session, without
consulting with their constituents at home, taking from the hard
laborers of the Confederacy one-tenth of the people's living, instead of
taking back their own currency in tax, is unjust and tyrannical." Other
resolutions called the tax "unconstitutional, anti-republican, and
oppressive"; and still others pledged the farmers "to resist to the
bitter end any such monarchical tax."

A leader of the discontented in North Carolina was found in W. W.
Holden, the editor of the Raleigh Progress, who before the war had
attempted to be spokesman for the men of small property by advocating
taxes on slaves and similar measures. He proposed as the conclusion of
the whole matter the opening of negotiations for peace. We shall see
later how deep-seated was this singular delusion that peace could be had
for the asking. In 1863, however, many men in North Carolina took up the
suggestion with delight. Jonathan Worth wrote in his diary, on hearing
that the influential North Carolina Standard had come out for peace: "I
still abhor, as I always did, this accursed war and the wicked men,
North and South, who inaugurated it. The whole country at the North and
the South is a great military despotism." With such discontent in the
air, the elections in North Carolina drew near. The feeling was intense
and riots occurred. Newspaper offices were demolished--among them
Holden's, to destroy which a detachment of passing soldiers converted
itself into a mob. In the western counties deserters from the army,
combined in bands, were joined by other deserters from Tennessee, and
terrorized the countryside. Governor Vance, alarmed at the progress
which this disorder was making, issued a proclamation imploring his
rebellious countrymen to conduct in a peaceable manner their campaign
for the repeal of obnoxious laws.

The measure of political unrest in North Carolina was indicated in the
autumn when a new delegation to Congress was chosen. Of the ten who
composed it, eight were new men. Though they did not stand for a clearly
defined program, they represented on the whole anti-Davis tendencies.
The Confederate Administration had failed to carry the day in the North
Carolina elections; and in Georgia there were even more sweeping
evidences of unrest. Of the ten representatives chosen for the Second
Congress nine had not sat in the First, and Georgia now was in the main
frankly anti-Davis. There had been set up at Richmond a new organ of the
Government called the Sentinel, which was more entirely under the
presidential shadow than even the Enquirer and the Courier. Speaking of
the elections, the Sentinel deplored the "upheaval of political
elements" revealed by the defeat of so many tried representatives whose
constituents had not returned them to the Second Congress.

What was Davis doing while the ground was thus being cut from under his
feet? For one thing he gave his endorsement to the formation of
"Confederate Societies" whose members bound themselves to take
Confederate money as legal tender. He wrote a letter to one such society
in Mississippi, praising it for attempting "by common consent to bring
down the prices of all articles to the standard of the soldiers' wages"
and adding that the passion of speculation had "seduced citizens of all
classes from a determined prosecution of the war to an effort to amass
money." The Sentinel advocated the establishment of a law fixing maximum
prices. The discussion of this proposal seems to make plain the raison
d'être for the existence of the Sentinel. Even such stanch government
organs as the Enquirer and the Courier shied at the idea, but the
Mercury denounced it vigorously, giving long extracts from Thiers, and
discussed the mistakes of the French Revolution with its "law of

Davis, however, did not take an active part in the political campaign,
nor did the other members of the Government. It was not because of any
notion that the President should not leave the capital that Davis did
not visit the disaffected regions of North Carolina when the startled
populace winced under its first experience with taxation. Three times
during his Administration Davis left Richmond on extended journeys: late
in 1862, when Vicksburg had become a chief concern of the Government, he
went as far afield as Mississippi in order to get entirely in touch with
the military situation in those parts; in the month of October, 1863,
when there was another moment of intense military anxiety, Davis again
visited the front; and of a third journey which he undertook in 1864, we
shall hear in time. It is to be noted that each of these journeys was
prompted by a military motive; and here, possibly, we get an explanation
of his inadequacy as a statesman. He could not lay aside his interest in
military affairs for the supremely important concerns of civil office;
and he failed to understand how to ingratiate his Administration by
personal appeals to popular imagination.

In October, 1863,--the very month in which his old rival Rhett suffered
his final defeat,--Davis undertook a journey because Bragg, after his
great victory at Chickamauga, appeared to be letting slip a golden
opportunity, and because there were reports of dissension among Bragg's
officers and of general confusion in his army. After he had, as he
thought, restored harmony in the camp, Davis turned southward on a tour
of appeal and inspiration. He went as far as Mobile, and returning bent
his course through Charleston, where, at the beginning of November, less
than two weeks after Rhett's defeat, Davis was received with all due
formalities. Members of the Rhett family were among those who formally
received the President at the railway station. There was a parade of
welcome, an official reception, a speech by the President from the steps
of the city hall, and much applause by friends of the Administration.
But certain ominous signs were not lacking. The Mercury, for example,
tucked away in an obscure column its account of the event, while its
rival, the Courier, made the President's visit the feature of the day.

Davis returned to Richmond, early in November, to throw himself again
with his whole soul into problems that were chiefly military. He did not
realize that the crisis had come and gone and that he had failed to
grasp the significance of the internal political situation. The
Government had failed to carry the elections and to secure a working
majority in Congress. Never again was it to have behind it a firm and
confident support. The unity of the secession movement had passed away.
Thereafter the Government was always to be regarded with suspicion by
the extreme believers in state sovereignty and by those who were
sullenly convinced that the burdens of the war were unfairly
distributed. And there were not wanting men who were ready to construe
each emergency measure as a step toward a coup d'état.


Life In The Confederacy

When the fortunes of the Confederacy in both camp and council began to
ebb, the life of the Southern people had already profoundly changed. The
gallant, delightful, care-free life of the planter class had been
undermined by a war which was eating away its foundations. Economic no
less than political forces were taking from the planter that ideal of
individual liberty as dear to his heart as it had been, ages before, to
his feudal prototype. One of the most important details of the changing
situation had been the relation of the Government to slavery. The
history of the Confederacy had opened with a clash between the extreme
advocates of slavery--the slavery-at-any-price men--and the
Administration. The Confederate Congress had passed a bill ostensibly to
make effective the clause in its constitution prohibiting the African
slave-trade. The quick eye of Davis had detected in it a mode of
evasion, for cargoes of captured slaves were to be confiscated and sold
at public auction. The President had exposed this adroit subterfuge in
his message vetoing the bill, and the slavery-at-any-price men had not
sufficient influence in Congress to override the veto, though they
muttered against it in the public press.

The slavery-at-any-price men did not again conspicuously show their
hands until three years later when the Administration included
emancipation in its policy. The ultimate policy of emancipation was
forced upon the Government by many considerations but more particularly
by the difficulty of securing labor for military purposes. In a country
where the supply of fighting men was limited and the workers were a
class apart, the Government had to employ the only available laborers or
confess its inability to meet the industrial demands of war. But the
available laborers were slaves. How could their services be secured? By
purchase? Or by conscription? Or by temporary impressment?

Though Davis and his advisers were prepared to face all the hazards
involved in the purchase or confiscation of slaves, the traditional
Southern temper instantly recoiled from the suggestion. A Government
possessed of great numbers of slaves, whether bought or appropriated,
would have in its hands a gigantic power, perhaps for industrial
competition with private owners, perhaps even for organized military
control. Besides, the Government might at any moment by emancipating its
slaves upset the labor system of the country. Furthermore, the
opportunities for favoritism in the management of state-owned slaves
were beyond calculation. Considerations such as these therefore explain
the watchful jealousy of the planters toward the Government whenever it
proposed to acquire property in slaves.

It is essential not to attribute this social-political dread of
government ownership of slaves merely to the clutch of a wealthy class
on its property. Too many observers, strangely enough, see the latter
motive to the exclusion of the former. Davis himself was not, it would
seem, free from this confusion. He insisted that neither slaves nor land
were taxed by the Confederacy, and between the lines he seems to
attribute to the planter class the familiar selfishness of massed
capital. He forgot that the tax in kind was combined with an income tax.
In theory, at least, the slave and the land--even non-farming land--were
taxed. However, the dread of a slave-owning Government prevented any
effective plan for supplying the army with labor except through the
temporary impressment of slaves who were eventually to be returned to
their owners. The policy of emancipation had to wait.

Bound up in the labor question was the question of the control of slaves
during the war. In the old days when there were plenty of white men in
the countryside, the roads were carefully patrolled at night, and no
slave ventured to go at large unless fully prepared to prove his
identity. But with the coming of war the comparative smallness of the
fighting population made it likely from the first that the countryside
everywhere would be stripped of its white guardians. In that event, who
would be left to control the slaves? Early in the war a slave police was
provided for by exempting from military duty overseers in the ratio
approximately of one white to twenty slaves. But the marvelous
faithfulness of the slaves, who nowhere attempted to revolt, made these
precautions unnecessary. Later laws exempted one overseer on every
plantation of fifteen slaves, not so much to perform patrol duty as to
increase the productivity of plantation labor.

This "Fifteen Slave" Law was one of many instances that were caught up
by the men of small property as evidence that the Government favored the
rich. A much less defensible law, and one which was bitterly attacked
for the same reason, was the unfortunate measure permitting the hiring
of substitutes by men drafted into the army. Eventually, the clamor
against this law caused its repeal, but before that time it had worked
untold harm as apparent evidence of "a rich man's war and a poor man's
fight." Extravagant stories of the avoidance of military duty by the
ruling class, though in the main they were mere fairy tales, changed the
whole atmosphere of Southern life. The old glad confidence uniting the
planter class with the bulk of the people had been impaired.
Misapprehension appeared on both sides. Too much has been said lately,
however, in justification of the poorer classes who were thus wakened
suddenly to a distrust of the aristocracy; and too little has been said
of the proud recoil of the aristocracy in the face of a sudden,
credulous perversion of its motives--a perversion inspired by the
pinching of the shoe, and yet a shoe that pinched one class as hard as
it did another. It is as unfair to charge the planter with selfishness
in opposing the appropriation of slaves as it is to make the same charge
against the small farmers for resisting tithes. In face of the record,
the planter comes off somewhat the better of the two; but it must be
remembered that he had the better education, the larger mental horizon.

The Confederacy had long recognized women of all classes as the most
dauntless defenders of the cause. The women of the upper classes passed
without a tremor from a life of smiling ease to a life of extreme
hardship. One day, their horizon was without a cloud; another day, their
husbands and fathers had gone to the front. Their luxuries had
disappeared, and they were reduced to plain hard living, toiling in a
thousand ways to find provision and clothing, not only for their own
children but for the poorer families of soldiers. The women of the poor
throughout the South deserve similar honor. Though the physical shock of
the change may not have been so great, they had to face the same deep
realities--hunger and want, anxiety over the absent soldiers, solicitude
for children, grief for the dead. One of the pathetic aspects of
Confederate life was the household composed of several families, all
women and children, huddled together without a man or even a half-grown
lad to be their link with the mill and the market. In those regions
where there were few slaves and the exemption of overseers did not
operate, such households were numerous.

The great privations which people endured during the Confederacy have
passed into familiar tradition. They are to be traced mainly to three
causes: to the blockade, to the inadequate system of transportation, and
to the heartlessness of speculators. The blockade was the real destroyer
of the South. Besides ruining the whole policy based on King Cotton,
besides impeding to a vast extent the inflow of munitions from Europe,
it also deprived Southern life of numerous articles which were hard to
relinquish--not only such luxuries as tea and coffee, but also such
utter necessities as medicines. And though the native herbs were
diligently studied, though the Government established medical
laboratories with results that were not inconsiderable, the shortage of
medicines remained throughout the war a distressing feature of Southern
life. The Tredegar Iron Works at Richmond and a foundry at Selma,
Alabama, were the only mills in the South capable of casting the heavy
ordnance necessary for military purposes. And the demand for powder
mills and gun factories to provide for the needs of the army was
scarcely greater than the demand for cotton mills and commercial
foundries to supply the wants of the civil population. The Government
worked without ceasing to keep pace with the requirements of the
situation, and, in view of the immense difficulties which it had to
face, it was fairly successful in supplying the needs of the army.
Powder was provided by the Niter and Mining Bureau; lead for Confederate
bullets was collected from many sources--even from the window-weights of
the houses; iron was brought from the mines of Alabama; guns came from
newly built factories; and machines and tools were part of the precious
freight of the blockade-runners. Though the poorly equipped mills turned
a portion of the cotton crop into textiles, and though everything that
was possible was done to meet the needs of the people, the supply of
manufactures was sadly inadequate. The universal shortage was betrayed
by the limitation of the size of most newspapers to a single sheet, and
the desperate situation clearly and completely revealed by the way in
which, as a last resort, the Confederates were compelled to repair their
railroads by pulling up the rails of one road in order to repair another
that the necessities of war rendered indispensable.

The railway system, if such it can be called, was one of the weaknesses
of the Confederacy. Before the war the South had not felt the need of
elaborate interior communication, for its commerce in the main went
seaward, and thence to New England or to Europe. Hitherto the railway
lines had seen no reason for merging their local character in extensive
combinations. Owners of short lines were inclined by tradition to resist
even the imperative necessities of war and their stubborn conservatism
was frequently encouraged by the short-sighted parochialism of the
towns. The same pitiful narrowness that led the peasant farmer to
threaten rebellion against the tax in kind led his counterpart in the
towns to oppose the War Department in its efforts to establish through
railroad lines because they threatened to impair local business
interests. A striking instance of this disinclination towards
coöperation is the action of Petersburg. Two railroads terminated at
this point but did not connect, and it was an ardent desire of the
military authorities to link the two and convert them into one. The
town, however, unable to see beyond its boundaries and resolute in its
determination to save its transfer business, successfully obstructed the
needs of the army. ¹

¹ See an article on The Confederate Government and the Railroads in the
American Historical Review, July, 1917, by Charles W. Ramsdell.

As a result of this lack of efficient organization an immense congestion
resulted all along the railroads. Whether this, rather than a failure in
supply, explains the approach of famine in the latter part of the war,
it is today very difficult to determine. In numerous state papers of the
time, the assertion was reiterated that the yield of food was abundant
and that the scarcity of food at many places, including the cities and
the battle fronts, was due to defects in transportation. Certain it is
that the progress of supplies from one point to another was intolerably

All this want of coördination facilitated speculation. We shall see
hereafter how merciless this speculation became and we shall even hear
of profits on food rising to more than four hundred per cent. However,
the oft-quoted prices of the later years--when, for instance, a pair of
shoes cost a hundred dollars--signify little, for they rested on an
inflated currency. None the less they inspired the witticism that one
should take money to market in a basket and bring provisions home in
one's pocketbook. Endless stories could be told of speculators hoarding
food and watching unmoved the sufferings of a famished people. Said
Bishop Pierce, in a sermon before the General Assembly of Georgia, on
Fast Day, in March, 1863: "Restlessness and discontent prevail....
Extortion, pitiless extortion is making havoc in the land. We are
devouring each other. Avarice with full barns puts the bounties of
Providence under bolts and bars, waiting with eager longings for higher
prices.... The greed of gain ... stalks among us unabashed by the heroic
sacrifice of our women or the gallant deeds of our soldiers. Speculation
in salt and bread and meat runs riot in defiance of the thunders of the
pulpit, and executive interference and the horrors of threatened
famine." In 1864, the Government found that quantities of grain paid in
under the tax as new-grown were mildewed. It was grain of the previous
year which speculators had held too long and now palmed off on the
Government to supply the army.

Amid these desperate conditions the fate of soldiers' families became
everywhere a tragedy. Unless the soldier was a land-owner his family was
all but helpless. With a depreciated currency and exaggerated prices,
his pay, whatever his rank, was too little to count in providing for his
dependents. Local charity, dealt out by state and county boards, by
relief associations, and by the generosity of neighbors, formed the
barrier between his family and starvation. The landless soldier, with a
family at home in desperate straits, is too often overlooked when
unimaginative people heap up the statistics of "desertion" in the latter
half of the war.

It was in this period, too, that amid the terrible shrinkage of the
defensive lines "refugeeing" became a feature of Southern life. From the
districts over which the waves of war rolled back and forth helpless
families--women, children, slaves--found precarious safety together with
great hardship by withdrawing to remote places which invasion was little
likely to reach. An Odyssey of hard travel, often by night and half
secret, is part of the war tradition of thousands of Southern families.
And here, as always, the heroic women, smiling, indomitable, are the
center of the picture. Their flight to preserve the children was no
small test of courage. Almost invariably they had to traverse desolate
country, with few attendants, through forests, and across rivers, where
the arm of the law was now powerless to protect them. Outlaws, defiant
of the authorities both civil and military,--ruthless men of whom we
shall hear again,--roved those great unoccupied spaces so characteristic
of the Southern countryside. Many a family legend preserves still the
sense of breathless caution, of pilgrimage in the night-time intently
silent for fear of these masterless men. When the remote rendezvous had
been reached, there a colony of refugees drew together in a steadfast
despair, unprotected by their own fighting men. What strange sad pages
in the history of American valor were filled by these women outwardly
calm, their children romping after butterflies in a glory of sunshine,
while horrid tales drifted in of deeds done by the masterless men in the
forest just beyond the horizon, and far off on the soul's horizon
fathers, husbands, brothers, held grimly the lines of last defense!


The Turning Of The Tide

The buoyancy of the Southern temper withstood the shock of Gettysburg
and was not overcome by the fall of Vicksburg. Of the far-reaching
significance of the latter catastrophe in particular there was little
immediate recognition. Even Seddon, the Secretary of War, in November,
reported that "the communication with the Trans-Mississippi, while
rendered somewhat precarious and insecure, is found by no means cut off
or even seriously endangered." His report was the same sort of thing as
those announcements of "strategic retreats" with which the world has
since become familiar. He even went so far as to argue that on the whole
the South had gained rather than lost; that the control of the river was
of no real value to the North; that the loss of Vicksburg "has on our
side liberated for general operations in the field a large army, while
it requires the enemy to maintain cooped up, inactive, in positions
insalubrious to their soldiers, considerable detachments of their

Seddon attempted to reverse the facts, to show that the importance of
the Mississippi in commerce was a Northern not a Southern concern. He
threw light upon the tactics of the time by his description of the
future action of Confederate sharpshooters who were to terrorize such
commercial crews as might attempt to navigate the river; he also told
how light batteries might move swiftly along the banks and, at points
commanding the channel, rain on the passing steamer unheralded
destruction. He was silent upon the really serious matter, the patrol of
the river by Federal gunboats which rendered commerce with the
Trans-Mississippi all but impossible.

This report, dated the 26th of November, gives a roseate view of the war
in Tennessee and enlarges upon that dreadful battle of Chickamauga which
"ranks as one of the grandest victories of the war." But even as the
report was signed, Bragg was in full retreat after his great disaster at
Chattanooga. On the 30th of November the Administration at Richmond
received from him a dispatch that closed with these words: "I deem it
due to the cause and to myself to ask for relief from command and an
investigation into the causes of the defeat." In the middle of December,
Joseph E. Johnston was appointed to succeed him.

Whatever had been the illusions of the Government, they were now at an
end. There was no denying that the war had entered a new stage and that
the odds were grimly against the South. Davis recognized the gravity of
the situation, and in his message to Congress in December, 1863, he
admitted that the Trans-Mississippi was practically isolated. This was
indeed a great catastrophe, for hereafter neither men nor supplies could
be drawn from the far Southwest. Furthermore, the Confederacy had now
lost its former precious advantage of using Mexico as a means of secret
trade with Europe.

These distressing events of the four months between Vicksburg and
Chattanooga established also the semi-isolation of the middle region of
the lower South. The two States of Mississippi and Alabama entered upon
the most desperate chapter of their history. Neither in nor out of the
Confederacy, neither protected by the Confederate lines nor policed by
the enemy, they were subject at once to the full rigor of the financial
and military demands of the Administration of Richmond and to the full
ruthlessness of plundering raids from the North. Nowhere can the
contrast between the warfare of that day and the best methods of our own
time be observed more clearly than in this unhappy region. At the
opening of 1864 the effective Confederate lines drew an irregular zigzag
across the map from a point in northern Georgia not far below
Chattanooga to Mobile. Though small Confederate commands still operated
bravely west of this line, the whole of Mississippi and a large part of
Alabama were beyond aid from Richmond. But the average man did not grasp
the situation. When a region is dominated by mobile armies the
appearance of things to the civilian is deceptive. Because the powerful
Federal armies of the Southwest, at the opening of 1864, were massed at
strategic points from Tennessee to the Gulf, and were not extended along
an obvious trench line, every brave civilian would still keep up his
hope and would still insist that the middle Gulf country was far from
subjugation, that its defense against the invader had not become

Under such conditions, when the Government at Richmond called upon the
men of the Southwest to regard themselves as mere sources of supply,
human and otherwise, mere feeders to a theater of war that did not
include their homes, it was altogether natural that they should resent
the demand. All the tragic confusion that was destined in the course of
the fateful year 1864 to paralyze the Government at Richmond was already
apparent in the middle Gulf country when the year began. Chief among
these was the inability of the State and Confederate Governments to
coöperate adequately in the business of conscription. The two powers
were determined rivals struggling each to seize the major part of the
manhood of the community. While Richmond, looking on the situation with
the eye of pure strategy, wished to draw together the full man-power of
the South in one great unit, the local authorities were bent on
retaining a large part of it for home defense.

In the Alabama newspapers of the latter half of 1863 strange incidents
are to be found throwing light on the administrative duel. The writ of
habeas corpus, as was so often the case in Confederate history, was the
bone of contention. We have seen that the second statute empowering the
President to proclaim martial law and to suspend the operation of the
writ had expired by limitation in February, 1863. The Alabama courts
were theoretically in full operation, but while the law was in force the
military authorities had acquired a habit of arbitrary control. Though
warned from Richmond in general orders that they must not take unto
themselves a power vested in the President alone, they continued their
previous course of action. It thereupon became necessary to issue
further general orders annulling "all proclamations of martial law by
general officers and others" not invested by law with adequate

Neither general orders nor the expiration of the statute, however,
seemed able to put an end to the interference with the local courts on
the part of local commanders. The evil apparently grew during 1863. A
picturesque instance is recorded with extreme fullness by the Southern
Advertiser in the autumn of the year. In the minutely circumstantial
account, we catch glimpses of one Rhodes moving heaven and earth to
prove himself exempt from military service. After Rhodes is enrolled by
the officers of the local military rendezvous, the sheriff attempts to
turn the tables by arresting the Colonel in command. The soldiers rush
to defend their Colonel, who is ill in bed at a house some distance
away. The judge who had issued the writ is hot with anger at this
military interference in civil affairs. Thereupon the soldiers seize
him, but later, recognizing for some unexplained reason the majesty of
the civil law, they release him. And the hot-tempered incident closes
with the Colonel's determination to carry the case to the Supreme Court
of the State.

The much harassed people of Alabama had still other causes of complaint
during this same year. Again the newspapers illumine the situation. In
the troubled autumn, Joseph Wheeler swept across the northern counties
of Alabama and in a daring ride, with Federal cavalry hot on his trail,
reached safety beyond the Tennessee River. Here his pursuers turned back
and, as their horses had been broken by the swiftness of the pursuit,
returning slowly, they "gleaned the country" to replace their supplies.
Incidentally they pounced upon the town of Huntsville. "Their appearance
here," writes a local correspondent, "was so sudden and ... the
contradictory reports of their whereabouts" had been so baffling that
the townspeople had found no time to secrete things. The whole
neighborhood was swept clean of cattle and almost clean of provision.
"We have not enough left," the report continues, "to haul and plow with
... and milch cows are non est." Including "Stanley's big raid in July,"
this was the twenty-first raid which Huntsville had endured that year.
The report closes with a bitter denunciation of the people of southern
Alabama who as yet do not know what war means, who are accused of
complete hardness of heart towards their suffering fellowcountrymen and
of caring only to make money out of war prices.

When Davis sent his message to the Southern Congress at the opening of
the session of 1864, the desperate plight of the middle Gulf country was
at once a warning and a menace to the Government. If the conditions of
that debatable land should extend eastward, there could be little doubt
that the day of the Confederacy was nearing its close. To remedy the
situation west of the main Confederate line, to prevent the growth of a
similar condition east of it, Davis urged Congress to revive the statute
permitting martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
The President told Congress that in parts of the Confederacy "public
meetings have been held, in some of which a treasonable design is masked
by a pretense of devotion of state sovereignty, and in others is openly
avowed ... a strong suspicion is entertained that secret leagues and
associations are being formed. In certain localities men of no mean
position do not hesitate to avow their disloyalty and hostility to our
cause, and their advocacy of peace on the terms of submission and the
abolition of slavery."

This suspicion on the part of the Confederate Government that it was
being opposed by organized secret societies takes us back to debatable
land and to the previous year. The Bureau of Conscription submitted to
the Secretary of War a report from its Alabama branch relative to "a
sworn secret organization known to exist and believed to have for its
object the encouragement of desertion, the protection of deserters from
arrest, resistance to conscription, and perhaps other designs of a still
more dangerous character." To the operations of this insidious foe were
attributed the shifting of the vote in the Alabama elections, the defeat
of certain candidates favored by the Government, and the return in their
stead of new men "not publicly known." The suspicions of the Government
were destined to further verification in the course of 1864 by the
unearthing of a treasonable secret society in southwestern Virginia, the
members of which were "bound to each other for the prosecution of their
nefarious designs by the most solemn oaths. They were under obligation
to encourage desertions from the army, and to pass and harbor all
deserters, escaped prisoners, or spies; to give information to the enemy
of the movements of our troops, of exposed or weakened positions, of
inviting opportunities of attack, and to guide and assist the enemy
either in advance or retreat." This society bore the grandiloquent name
"Heroes of America" and had extended its operations into Tennessee and
North Carolina.

In the course of the year further evidence was collected which satisfied
the secret service of the existence of a mysterious and nameless society
which had ramifications throughout Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. A
detective who joined this "Peace Society," as it was called, for the
purpose of betraying its secrets, had marvelous tales to tell of
confidential information given to him by members, of how Missionary
Ridge had been lost and Vicksburg had surrendered through the
machinations of this society. ¹

¹ What classes were represented in these organizations it is difficult
if not impossible to determine. They seem to have been involved in the
singular "peace movement" which is yet to be considered. This fact gives
a possible clue to the problem of their membership. A suspiciously large
number of the "peace" men were original anti-secessionists, and though
many, perhaps most, of these who opposed secession became loyal servants
of the Confederacy, historians may have jumped too quickly to the
assumption that the sincerity of all of these men was above reproach.

In spite of its repugnance to the suspension of the writ of habeas
corpus, Congress was so impressed by the gravity of the situation that
early in 1864 it passed another act "to suspend the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus in certain cases." This was not quite the same as
that sweeping act of 1862 which had set the Mercury irrevocably in
opposition. Though this act of 1864 gave the President the power to
order the arrest of any person suspected of treasonable practices, and
though it released military officers from all obligation to obey the
order of any civil court to surrender a prisoner charged with treason,
the new legislation carefully defined a list of cases in which alone
this power could be lawfully used. This was the last act of the sort
passed by the Confederate Congress, and when it expired by limitation
ninety days after the next meeting of Congress it was not renewed.

With regard to the administration of the army, Congress can hardly be
said to have met the President more than half way. The age of military
service was lowered to seventeen and was raised to fifty. But the
President was not given--though he had asked for it--general control
over exemptions. Certain groups, such as ministers, editors, physicians,
were in the main exempted; one overseer was exempted on each plantation
where there were fifteen slaves, provided he gave bond to sell to the
Government at official prices each year one hundred pounds of either
beef or bacon for each slave employed and provided he would sell all his
surplus produce either to the Government or to the families of soldiers.
Certain civil servants of the Confederacy were also exempted as well as
those whom the governors of States should "certify to be necessary for
the proper administration of the State Government." The President was
authorized to detail for nonmilitary service any members of the
Confederate forces "when in his judgment, justice, equity, and
necessity, require such details."

This statute retained two features that had already given rise to much
friction, and that were destined to be the cause of much more. It was
still within the power of state governors to impede conscription very
seriously. By certifying that a man was necessary to the civil
administration of a State, a Governor could place him beyond the legal
reach of the conscripting officers. This provision was a concession to
those who looked on Davis's request for authority over exemption as the
first step toward absolutism. On the other hand the statute allowed the
President a free hand in the scarcely less important matter of
"details." Among the imperative problems of the Confederacy, where the
whole male population was needed in the public service, was the most
economical separation of the two groups, the fighters and the producers.
On the one hand there was the constant demand for recruits to fill up
the wasted armies; on the other, the need for workers to keep the shops
going and to secure the harvest. The two interests were never fully
coördinated. Under the act of 1864, no farmer, mechanic, tradesman,
between the ages of seventeen and fifty, if fit for military service,
could remain at his work except as a "detail" under orders of the
President: he might be called to the colors at a moment's notice. We
shall see, presently, how the revoking of details, toward the end of
what may truly be called the terrible year, was one of the major
incidents of Confederate history.

Together with the new conscription act, the President approved on
February 17, 1864, a reenactment of the tax in kind, with some slight
concessions to the convenience of the farmers. The President's appeal
for a law directly taxing slaves and land had been ignored by Congress,
but another of his suggestions had been incorporated in the Funding Act.
The state of the currency was now so grave that Davis attributed to it
all the evils growing out of the attempts to enforce impressment. As the
value of the paper dollar had by this time shrunk to six cents in specie
and the volume of Confederate paper was upward of seven hundred
millions, Congress undertook to reduce the volume and raise the value by
compelling holders of notes to exchange them for bonds. By way of
driving the note-holders to consent to the exchange, provision was made
for the speedy taxation of notes for one-third their face value.

Such were the main items of the government program for 1864. Armed with
this, Davis braced himself for the great task of making head against the
enemies that now surrounded the Confederacy. It is an axiom of military
science that when one combatant possesses the interior line, the other
can offset this advantage only by exerting coincident pressure all
round, thus preventing him from shifting his forces from one front to
another. On this principle, the Northern strategists had at last
completed their gigantic plan for a general envelopment of the whole
Confederate defense both by land and sea. Grant opened operations by
crossing the Rapidan and telegraphing Sherman to advance into Georgia.

The stern events of the spring of 1864 form such a famous page in
military history that the sober civil story of those months appears by
comparison lame and impotent. Nevertheless, the Confederate Government
during those months was at least equal to its chief obligation: it
supplied and recruited the armies. With Grant checked at Cold Harbor, in
June, and Sherman still unable to pierce the western line, the hopes of
the Confederates were high.

In the North there was corresponding gloom. This was the moment when all
Northern opponents of the war drew together in their last attempt to
shatter the Lincoln Government and make peace with the Confederacy. The
value to the Southern cause of this Northern movement for peace at any
price was keenly appreciated at Richmond. Trusted agents of the
Confederacy were even then in Canada working deftly to influence
Northern sentiment. The negotiations with those Northern secret
societies which befriended the South belong properly in the story of
Northern politics and the presidential election of 1864. They were
skillfully conducted chiefly by Jacob Thompson and C. C. Clay. The
reports of these agents throughout the spring and summer were all
hopeful and told of "many intelligent men from the United States" who
sought them out in Canada for political consultations. They discussed
"our true friends from the Chicago (Democratic) convention" and even
gave names of those who, they were assured, would have seats in
McClellan's Cabinet. They were really not well informed upon Northern
affairs, and even after the tide had turned against the Democrats in
September, they were still priding themselves on their diplomatic
achievement, still confident they had helped organize a great political
power, had "given a stronger impetus to the peace party of the North
than all other causes combined, and had greatly reduced the strength of
the war party."

While Clay and Thompson built their house of cards in Canada, the
Richmond Government bent anxious eyes on the western battlefront.
Sherman, though repulsed in his one frontal attack at Kenesaw Mountain,
had steadily worked his way by the left flank of the Confederate army,
until in early July he was within six miles of Atlanta. All the lower
South was a-tremble with apprehension. Deputations were sent to Richmond
imploring the removal of Johnston from the western command. What had he
done since his appointment in December but retreat? Such was the tenor
of public opinion. "It is all very well to talk of Fabian policy," said
one of his detractors long afterward, "and now we can see we were rash
to say the least. But at the time, all of us went wrong together.
Everybody clamored for Johnston's removal." Johnston and Davis were not
friends; but the President hesitated long before acting. And yet, with
each day, political as well as military necessity grew more imperative.
Both at Washington and Richmond the effect that the fighting in Georgia
had on Northern opinion was seen to be of the first importance. Sherman
was staking everything to break the Confederate line and take Atlanta.
He knew that a great victory would have incalculable effect on the
Northern election. Davis knew equally well that the defeat of Sherman
would greatly encourage the peace party in the North. But he had no
general of undoubted genius whom he could put in Johnston's place.
However, the necessity for a bold stroke was so undeniable, and Johnston
appeared so resolute to continue his Fabian policy, that Davis
reluctantly took a desperate chance and superseded him by Hood.

During August, though the Democratic convention at Chicago drew up its
platform favoring peace at any price, the anxiety of the Southern
President did not abate his activities. The safety of the western line
was now his absorbing concern. And in mid-August that line was turned,
in a way, by Farragut's capture of Mobile Bay. As the month closed,
Sherman, despite the furious blows delivered by Hood, was plainly
getting the upper hand. North and South, men watched that tremendous
duel with the feeling that the foundations of things were rocking. At
last, on the 2d of September, Sherman, victorious, entered Atlanta.


A Game Of Chance

With dramatic completeness in the summer and autumn of 1864, the
foundations of the Confederate hope one after another gave way. Among
the causes of this catastrophe was the failure of the second great
attempt on the part of the Confederacy to secure recognition abroad. The
subject takes us back to the latter days of 1862, when the center of
gravity in foreign affairs had shifted from London to Paris. Napoleon
III, at the height of his strange career, playing half a dozen dubious
games at once, took up a new pastime and played at intrigue with the
Confederacy. In October he accorded a most gracious interview to
Slidell. He remarked that his sympathies were entirely with the South
but added that, if he acted alone, England might trip him up. He spoke
of his scheme for joint intervention by England, France, and Russia.
Then he asked why we had not created a navy. Slidell snapped at the
bait. He said that the Confederates would be glad to build ships in
France, that "if the Emperor would give only some kind of verbal
assurance that the police would not observe too closely when we wished
to put on guns and men we would gladly avail ourselves of it." To this,
the imperial trickster replied, "Why could you not have them built as
for the Italian Government? I do not think it would be difficult but
will consult the Minister of Marine about it."

Slidell left the Emperor's presence confident that things would happen.
And they did. First came Napoleon's proposal of intervention, which was
declined before the end of the year by England and Russia. Then came his
futile overtures to the Government at Washington, his offer of
mediation--which was rejected early in 1863. But Slidell remained
confident that something else would happen. And in this expectation also
he was not disappointed. The Emperor was deeply involved in Mexico and
was busily intriguing throughout Europe. This was the time when
Erlanger, standing high in the favor of the Emperor, made his gambler's
proposal to the Confederate authorities about cotton. Another of the
Emperor's friends now enters the play. On January 7, 1863, M. Arman, of
Bordeaux, "the largest shipbuilder in France," had called on the
Confederate commissioner: M. Arman would be happy to build ironclad
ships for the Confederacy, and as to paying for them, cotton bonds might
do the trick.

No wonder Slidell was elated, so much so that he seems to have given
little heed to the Emperor's sinister intimation that the whole affair
must be subterranean. But the wily Bonaparte had not forgotten that six
months earlier he had issued a decree of neutrality forbidding Frenchmen
to take commissions from either belligerent "for the armament of vessels
of war or to accept letters of marque, or to coöperate in any way
whatsoever in the equipment or arming of any vessel of war or corsair of
either belligerent." He did not intend to abandon publicly this cautious
attitude--at least, not for the present. And while Slidell at Paris was
completely taken in, the cooler head of A. Dudley Mann, Confederate
commissioner at Brussels, saw what an international quicksand was the
favor of Napoleon. It was about this time that Napoleon, having
dispatched General Forey with a fresh army to Mexico, wrote the famous
letter which gave notice to the world of what he was about. Mann wrote
home in alarm that the Emperor might be expected to attempt recovering
Mexico's ancient areas including Texas. Slidell saw in the Forey letter
only "views ... which will not be gratifying to the Washington

The adroit Arman, acting on hints from high officers of the Government,
applied for permission to build and arm ships of war, alleging that he
intended to send them to the Pacific and sell them to either China or
Japan. To such a laudable expression of commercial enterprise, one of
his fellows in the imperial ring, equipped with proper authority under
Bonaparte, hastened to give official approbation, and Erlanger came
forward by way of financial backer. There were conferences of
Confederate agents; contracts were signed; plans were agreed upon; and
the work was begun.

There was no more hopeful man in the Confederate service than Slidell
when, in the full flush of pride after Chancellorsville, he appealed to
the Emperor to cease waiting on other powers and recognize the
Confederacy. Napoleon accorded another gracious interview but still
insisted that it was impossible for him to act alone. He said that he
was "more fully convinced than ever of the propriety of a general
recognition by the European powers of the Confederate States but that
the commerce of France and the interests of the Mexican expedition would
be jeopardized by a rupture with the United States" and unless England
would stand by him he dared not risk such an eventuality. In point of
fact, he was like a speculator who is "hedging" on the stock exchange,
both buying and selling, and trying to make up his mind on which cast to
stake his fortune. At the same time he threw out once more the sinister
caution about the ships. He said that the ships might be built in France
but that their destination must be concealed.

That Napoleon's choice just then, if England had supported him, would
have been recognition of the Confederacy, cannot be doubted. The tangle
of intrigue which he called his foreign policy was not encouraging. He
was deeply involved in Italian politics, where the daring of Garibaldi
had reopened the struggle between clericals and liberals. In France
itself the struggle between parties was keen. Here, as in the American
imbroglio, he found it hard to decide with which party to break. The
chimerical scheme of a Latin empire in Mexico was his spectacular device
to catch the imagination, and incidentally the pocketbook, of everybody.
But in order to carry out this enterprise he must be able to avert or
withstand the certain hostility of the United States. Therefore, as he
told Slidell, "no other power than England possessed a sufficient navy"
to pull his chestnuts out of the fire. The moment was auspicious, for
there was a revival of the "Southern party" in England. The sailing of
the Alabama from Liverpool during the previous summer had encouraged the
Confederate agents and their British friends to undertake further

While M. Arman was at work in France, the Laird Brothers were at work in
England and their dockyards contained two ironclad rams supposed to
outclass any vessels of the United States navy. Though every effort had
been made to keep secret the ultimate destination of these rams, the
vigilance of the United States minister, reinforced by the zeal of the
"Northern party," detected strong circumstantial evidence pointing
toward a Confederate contract with the Lairds. A popular agitation
ensued along with demands upon the Government to investigate. To mask
the purposes of the Lairds, Captain James Bullock, the able special
agent of the Confederate navy, was forced to fall back upon the same
tactics that were being used across the Channel, and to sell the rams,
on paper, to a firm in France. Neither he nor Slidell yet appreciated
what a doubtful refuge was the shadow of Napoleon's wing.

Nevertheless the British Government, by this time practically alined
with the North, continued its search for the real owner of the Laird
rams. The "Southern party," however, had not quite given up hope, and
the agitation to prevent the sailing of the rams was a keen spur to its
flagging zeal. Furthermore the prestige of Lee never was higher than it
was in June, 1863, when the news of Chancellorsville was still fresh and
resounding in every mind. It had given new life to the Confederate hope:
Lee would take Washington before the end of the summer; the Laird rams
would go to sea; the Union would be driven to the wall. So reasoned the
ardent friends of the South. But one thing was lacking--a European
alliance. What a time for England to intervene!

While Slidell was talking with the Emperor, he had in his pocket a
letter from J. A. Roebuck, an English politician who wished to force the
issue in the House of Commons. As a preliminary to moving the
recognition of the Confederacy, he wanted authority to deny a rumor
going the rounds in London, to the effect that Napoleon had taken
position against intervention. Napoleon, when he had seen the letter,
began a negotiation of some sort with this politician. It is needless to
enter into the complications that ensued, the subsequent recriminations,
and the question as to just what Napoleon promised at this time and how
many of his promises he broke. He was a diplomat of the old school, the
school of lying as a fine art. He permitted Roebuck to come over to
Paris for an audience, and Roebuck went away with the impression that
Napoleon could be relied upon to back up a new movement for recognition.
When, however, Roebuck brought the matter before the Commons at the end
of the month and encountered an opposition from the Government that
seemed to imply an understanding with Napoleon which was different from
his own, he withdrew his motion (in July). Once more the scale turned
against the Confederacy, and Gettysburg was supplemented by the seizure
of the Laird rams by the British authorities. These events explain the
bitter turn given to Confederate feeling toward England in the latter
part of 1863. On the 4th of August Benjamin wrote to Mason that "the
perusal of the recent debates in Parliament satisfies the President"
that Mason's "continued residence in London is neither conducive to the
interests nor consistent with the dignity of this government," and
directed him to withdraw to Paris.

Confederate feeling, as it cooled toward England, warmed toward France.
Napoleon's Mexican scheme, including the offer of a ready-made imperial
crown to Maximilian, the brother of the Emperor of Austria, was fully
understood at Richmond; and with Napoleon's need of an American ally,
Southern hope revived. It was further strengthened by a pamphlet which
was translated and distributed in the South as a newspaper article under
the title France, Mexico, and the Confederate States. The reputed
author, Michel Chevalier, was an imperial senator, another member of the
Napoleon ring, and highly trusted by his shifty master. The pamphlet,
which emphasized the importance of Southern independence as a condition
of Napoleon's "beneficent aims" in Mexico, was held to have been
inspired, and the imperial denial was regarded as a mere matter of form.

What appeared to be significant of the temper of the Imperial Government
was a decree of a French court in the case of certain merchants who
sought to recover insurance on wine dispatched to America and destroyed
in a ship taken by the Alabama. Their plea was that they were insured
against loss by "pirates." The court dismissed their suit and assessed
costs against them. Further evidence of Napoleon's favor was the
permission given to the Confederate cruiser Florida to repair at Brest
and even to make use of the imperial dockyard. The very general faith in
Napoleon's promises was expressed by Davis in his message to Congress in
December: "Although preferring our own government and institutions to
those of other countries, we can have no disposition to contest the
exercise by them of the same right of self-government which we assert
for ourselves. If the Mexican people prefer a monarchy to a republic, it
is our plain duty cheerfully to acquiesce in their decision and to
evince a sincere and friendly interest in their prosperity.... The
Emperor of the French has solemnly disclaimed any purpose to impose on
Mexico a form of government not acceptable to the nation...." In
January, 1864, hope of recognition through support of Napoleon's Mexican
policy moved the Confederate Congress to adopt resolutions providing for
a Minister to the Mexican Empire and giving him instructions with regard
to a presumptive treaty. To the new post Davis appointed General William

But what, while hope was springing high in America, was taking place in
France? So far as the world could say, there was little if anything to
disturb the Confederates; and yet, on the horizon, a cloud the size of a
man's hand had appeared. M. Arman had turned to another member of the
Legislative Assembly, a sound Bonapartist like himself, M. Voruz, of
Nantes, to whom he had sublet a part of the Confederate contract. The
truth about the ships and their destination thus became part of the
archives of the Voruz firm. No phase of Napoleonic intrigue could go
very far without encountering dishonesty, and to the confidential clerk
of M. Voruz there occurred the bright idea of doing something for
himself with this valuable diplomatic information. One fine day the
clerk was missing and with him certain papers. Then there ensued a
period of months during which the firm and their employers could only
conjecture the full extent of their loss.

In reality, from the Confederate point of view, everything was lost.
Again the episode becomes too complex to be followed in detail. Suffice
it to say that the papers were sold to the United States; that the
secret was exposed; that the United States made a determined assault
upon the Imperial Government. In the midst of this entanglement, Slidell
lost his head, for hope deferred when apparently within reach of its end
is a dangerous councilor of state. In his extreme anxiety, Slidell sent
to the Emperor a note the blunt rashness of which the writer could not
have appreciated. Saying that he feared the Emperor's subordinates might
play into the hands of Washington, he threw his fat in the fire by
speaking of the ships as "now being constructed at Bordeaux and Nantes
for the government of the Confederate States" and virtually claimed of
Napoleon a promise to let them go to sea. Three days later the Minister
of Foreign Affairs took him sharply to task because of this note,
reminding him that "what had passed with the Emperor was confidential"
and dropping the significant hint that France could not be forced into
war by "indirection." According to Slidell's version of the interview
"the Minister's tone changed completely" when Slidell replied with "a
detailed history of the affair showing that the idea originated with the
Emperor." Perhaps the Minister knew more than he chose to betray.

From this hour the game was up. Napoleon's purpose all along seems to
have been quite plain. He meant to help the South to win by itself, and,
after it had won, to use it for his own advantage. So precarious was his
position in Europe that he dared not risk an American war without
England's aid, and England had cast the die. In this way, secrecy was
the condition necessary to continued building of the ships. Now that the
secret was out, Napoleon began to shift his ground. He sounded the
Washington Government and found it suspiciously equivocal as to Mexico.
To silence the French republicans, to whom the American minister had
supplied information about the ships, Napoleon tried at first muzzling
the press. But as late as February, 1864, he was still carrying water on
both shoulders. His Minister of Marine notified the builders that they
must get the ships out of France, unarmed, under fictitious sale to some
neutral country. The next month, reports which the Confederate
commissioners sent home became distinctly alarming. Mann wrote from
Brussels: "Napoleon has enjoined upon Maximilian to hold no official
relations with our commissioners in Mexico." Shortly after this Slidell
received a shock that was the beginning of the end: Maximilian, on
passing through Paris on his way to Mexico, refused to receive him.

The Mexican project was now being condemned by all classes in France.
Nevertheless, the Government was trying to float a Mexican loan, and it
is hardly fanciful to think that on this loan the last hope of the
Confederacy turned. Despite the popular attitude toward Mexico, the loan
was going well when the House of Representatives of the United States
dealt the Confederacy a staggering blow. It passed unanimous resolutions
in the most grim terms, denouncing the substitution of monarchical for
republican government in Mexico under European auspices. When this
action was reported in France, the Mexican loan collapsed.

Napoleon's Italian policy was now moving rapidly toward the crisis which
it reached during the following summer when he surrendered to the
opposition and promised to withdraw the French troops from Rome. In May,
when the loan collapsed, there was nothing for it but to throw over his
dear friends of the Confederacy. Presently he had summoned Arman before
him, "rated him severely," and ordered him to make bona fide sales of
the ships to neutral powers. The Minister of Marine professed surprise
and indignation at Arman's trifling with the neutrality of the Imperial
Government. And that practically was the end of the episode.

Equally complete was the breakdown of the Confederate negotiations with
Mexico. General Preston was refused recognition. In those fierce days of
July when the fate of Atlanta was in the balance, the pride and despair
of the Confederate Government flared up in a haughty letter to Preston
reminding him that "it had never been the intention of this Government
to offer any arguments to the new Government of Mexico ... nor to place
itself in any attitude other than that of complete equality," and
directing him to make no further overtures to the Mexican Emperor.

And then came the débâcle in Georgia. On that same 20th of September
when Benjamin poured out in a letter to Slidell his stored-up bitterness
denouncing Napoleon, Davis, feeling the last crisis was upon him, left
Richmond to join the army in Georgia. His frame of mind he had already
expressed when he said, "We have no friends abroad."


Desperate Remedies

The loss of Atlanta was the signal for another conflict of authority
within the Confederacy. Georgia was now in the condition in which
Alabama had found herself in the previous year. A great mobile army of
invaders lay encamped on her soil. And yet there was still a state
Government established at the capital. Inevitably the man who thought of
the situation from the point of view of what we should now call the
general staff, and the man who thought of it from the point of view of a
citizen of the invaded State, suffered each an intensification of
feeling, and each became determined to solve the problem in his own way.
The President of the Confederacy and the Governor of Georgia represented
these incompatible points of view.

The Governor, Joseph E. Brown, is one of the puzzling figures of
Confederate history. We have already encountered him as a dogged
opponent of the Administration. With the whole fabric of Southern life
toppling about his ears, Brown argued, quibbled, evaded, and became a
rallying-point of disaffection. That more eminent Georgian, Howell Cobb,
applied to him very severe language, and they became engaged in a
controversy over that provision of the Conscription Act which exempted
state officials from military service. While the Governor of Virginia
was refusing certificates of exemption to the minor civil officers such
as justices of the peace, Brown by proclamation promised his
"protection" to the most insignificant civil servants. "Will even your
Excellency," demanded Cobb, "certify that in any county of Georgia
twenty justices of the peace and an equal number of constables are
necessary for the proper administration of the state government?" The
Bureau of Conscription estimated that Brown kept out of the army
approximately 8000 eligible men. The truth seems to be that neither by
education nor heredity was this Governor equipped to conceive large
ideas. He never seemed conscious of the war as a whole, or of the
Confederacy as a whole. To defend Georgia and, if that could not be
done, to make peace for Georgia--such in the mind of Brown was the aim
of the war. His restless jealousy of the Administration finds its
explanation in his fear that it would denude his State of men. The
seriousness of Governor Brown's opposition became apparent within a week
of the fall of Atlanta. Among Hood's forces were some 10,000 Georgia
militia. Brown notified Hood that these troops had been called out
solely with a view to the defense of Atlanta, that since Atlanta had
been lost they must now be permitted "to return to their homes and look
for a time after important interests," and that therefore he did
"withdraw said organizations" from Hood's command. In other words, Brown
was afraid that they might be taken out of the State. By proclamation he
therefore gave the militia a furlough of thirty days. Previous to the
issue of this proclamation, Seddon had written to Brown making
requisition for his 10,000 militia to assist in a pending campaign
against Sherman. Two days after his proclamation had appeared, Brown, in
a voluminous letter full of blustering rhetoric and abounding in sneers
at the President, demanded immediate reinforcements by order of the
President and threatened that, if they were not sent, he would recall
the Georgia troops from the army of Lee and would command "all the sons
of Georgia to return to their own State and within their own limits to
rally round her glorious flag."

So threatening was the situation in Georgia that Davis attempted to take
it into his own hands. In a grim frame of mind he left Richmond for the
front. The resulting military arrangements do not of course belong
strictly to the subject-matter of this volume; but the brief tour of
speechmaking which Davis made in Georgia and the interior of South
Carolina must be noticed; for his purpose seems to have been to put the
military point of view squarely before the people. He meant them to see
how the soldier looked at the situation, ignoring all demands of
locality, of affiliation, of hardship, and considering only how to meet
and beat the enemy. In his tense mood he was not always fortunate in his
expressions. At Augusta, for example, he described Beauregard, whom he
had recently placed in general command over Georgia and South Carolina,
as one who would do whatever the President told him to do. But this idea
of military self-effacement was not happily worded, and the enemies of
Davis seized on his phraseology as further evidence of his instinctive
autocracy. The Mercury compared him to the Emperor of Russia and
declared the tactless remark to be "as insulting to General Beauregard
as it is false and presumptuous in the President."

Meanwhile Beauregard was negotiating with Brown. Though they came to an
understanding about the disposition of the militia, Brown still tried to
keep control of the state troops. When Sherman was burning Atlanta
preparatory to the March to the Sea, Brown addressed to the Secretary of
War another interminable epistle, denouncing the Confederate authorities
and asserting his willingness to fight both the South and the North if
they did not both cease invading his rights. But the people of Georgia
were better balanced than their Governor. Under the leadership of such
men as Cobb they rose to the occasion and did their part in what proved
a vain attempt to conduct a "people's war." Their delegation at Richmond
sent out a stirring appeal assuring them that Davis was doing for them
all it was possible to do. "Let every man fly to arms," said the appeal.
"Remove your negroes, horses, cattle, and provisions from before
Sherman's army, and burn what you cannot carry. Burn all bridges and
block up the roads in his route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and
rear, by night and by day. Let him have no rest."

The Richmond Government was unable to detach any considerable force from
the northern front. Its contribution to the forces in Georgia was
accomplished by such pathetic means as a general order calling to the
colors all soldiers furloughed or in hospital, "except those unable to
travel"; by revoking all exemptions to farmers, planters, and mechanics,
except munitions workers; and by placing one-fifth of the ordnance and
mining bureau in the battle service.

All the world knows how futile were these endeavors to stop the
whirlwind of desolation that was Sherman's march. He spent his Christmas
Day in Savannah. Then the center of gravity shifted from Georgia to
South Carolina. Throughout the two desperate months that closed 1864 the
authorities of South Carolina had vainly sought for help from Richmond.
Twice the Governor made official request for the return to South
Carolina of some of her own troops who were at the front in Virginia.
Davis first evaded and then refused the request. Lee had informed him
that if the forces on the northern front were reduced, the evacuation of
Richmond would become inevitable.

The South Carolina Government, in December, 1864, seems to have
concluded that the State must save itself. A State Conscription Act was
passed placing all white males between the ages of sixteen and sixty at
the disposal of the state authorities for emergency duty. An Exemption
Act set forth a long list of persons who should not be liable to
conscription by the Confederate Government. Still a third act regulated
the impressment of slaves for work on fortifications so as to enable the
state authorities to hold a check upon the Confederate authorities. The
significance of the three statutes was interpreted by a South Carolina
soldier, General John S. Preston, in a letter to the Secretary of War
that was a wail of despair. "This legislation is an explicit declaration
that this State does not intend to contribute another soldier or slave
to the public defense, except on such terms as may be dictated by her
authorities. The example will speedily be followed by North Carolina and
Georgia, the Executives of those States having already assumed the

The division between the two parties in South Carolina had now become
bitter. To Preston the men behind the State Exemption Act appeared as
"designing knaves." The Mercury, on the other hand, was never more
relentless toward Davis than in the winter of 1864-1865. However, none
or almost none of the anti-Davis men in South Carolina made the least
suggestion of giving up the struggle. To fight to the end but also to
act as a check upon the central Government--as the new Governor, Andrew
G. Magrath, said in his inaugural address in December, 1864,--was the
aim of the dominant party in South Carolina. How far the State
Government and the Confederate Government had drifted apart is shown by
two comments which were made in January, 1865. Lee complained that the
South Carolina regiments, "much reduced by hard service," were not being
recruited up to their proper strength because of the measures adopted in
the southeastern States to retain conscripts at home. About the same
date the Mercury arraigned Davis for leaving South Carolina defenseless
in the face of Sherman's coming offensive, and asked whether Davis
intended to surrender the Confederacy.

And in the midst of this critical period, the labor problem pushed to
the fore again. The revocation of industrial details, necessary as it
was, had put almost the whole male population--in theory, at least--in
the general Confederate army. How far-reaching was the effect of this
order may be judged from the experience of the Columbia and Augusta
Railroad Company. This road was building through the interior of the
State a new line which was rendered imperatively necessary by Sherman's
seizure of the lines terminating at Savannah. The effect of the
revocation order on the work in progress was described by the president
of the road in a letter to the Secretary of War:

In July and August I made a fair beginning and by October we had about
600 hands. General Order No. 77 took off many of our contractors and
hands. We still had increased the number of hands to about 400 when
Sherman started from Atlanta. The military authorities of Augusta took
about 300 of them to fortify that city. These contractors being from
Georgia returned with their slaves to their homes after being discharged
at Augusta. We still have between 500 and 600 hands at work and are
adding to the force every week.

The great difficulty has been in getting contractors exempt or
definitely detailed since Order No. 77. I have not exceeded eight or
nine contractors now detailed. The rest are exempt from other causes or
over age.

It was against such a background of economic confusion that Magrath
wrote to the Governor of North Carolina making a revolutionary proposal.
Virtually admitting that the Confederacy had been shattered, and knowing
the disposition of those in authority to see only the military aspects
of any given situation, he prophesied two things: that the generals
would soon attempt to withdraw Lee's army south of Virginia, and that
the Virginia troops in that army would refuse to go. "It is natural
under the circumstances," said he, "that they would not." He would
prepare for this emergency by an agreement among the Southeastern and
Gulf States to act together irrespective of Richmond, and would thus
weld the military power of these States into "a compact and organized

Governor Vance, with unconscious subtlety, etched a portrait of his own
mind when he replied that the crisis demanded "particularly the skill of
the politician perhaps more than that of the great general." He adroitly
evaded saying what he really thought of the situation but he made two
explicit counter-proposals. He suggested that a demand should be made
for the restoration of General Johnston and for the appointment of
General Lee to "full and absolute command of all the forces of the
Confederacy." On the day on which Vance wrote to Magrath, the Mercury
lifted up its voice and cried out for a Lee to take charge of the
Government and save the Confederacy. About the same time Cobb wrote to
Davis in the most friendly way, warning him that he had scarcely a
supporter left in Georgia, and that, in view of the great popular
reaction in favor of Johnston, concessions to the opposition were an
imperative necessity. "By accident," said he, "I have become possessed
of the facts in connection with the proposed action of the Governors of
certain States." He disavowed any sympathy with the movement but warned
Davis that it was a serious menace.

Two other intrigues added to the general political confusion. One of
these, the "Peace Movement," will be considered in the next chapter. The
other was closely connected with the alleged conspiracy to depose Davis
and set up Lee as dictator. If the traditional story, accepted by able
historians, may be believed, William C. Rives, of the Confederate
Congress, carried in January, 1865, to Lee from a congressional cabal an
invitation to accept the rôle of Cromwell. The greatest difficulty in
the way of accepting the tradition is the extreme improbability that any
one who knew anything of Lee would have been so foolish as to make such
a proposal. Needless to add, the tradition includes Lee's refusal to
overturn the Government.

There can be no doubt, however, that all the enemies of Davis in
Congress and out of it, in the opening months of 1865, made a determined
series of attacks upon his Administration. Nor can there be any doubt
that the popular faith in Lee was used as their trump card. To that end,
a bill was introduced to create the office of commanding general of the
Confederate armies. The bill was generally applauded, and every one
assumed that the new office was to be given to Lee. On the day after the
bill had passed the Senate the Virginia Legislature resolved that the
appointment of General Lee to supreme command would "reanimate the
spirit of the armies as well as the people of the several States and ...
inspire increased confidence in the final success of the cause." When
the bill was sent to the President, it was accompanied by a resolution
asking him to restore Johnston. While Davis was considering this bill,
the Virginia delegation in the House, headed by the Speaker, Thomas S.
Bocock, waited upon the President, informed him what was really wanted
was a change of Cabinet, and told him that three-fourths of the House
would support a resolution of want of confidence in the Cabinet. The
next day Bocock repeated the demand in a note which Davis described as a
"warning if not a threat."

The situation of both President and country was now desperate. The
program with which the Government had entered so hopefully upon this
fated year had broken down at almost every point. In addition to the
military and administrative disasters, the financial and economic
situation was as bad as possible. So complete was the financial
breakdown that Secretary Memminger, utterly disheartened, had resigned
his office, and the Treasury was now administered by a Charleston
merchant, George A. Trenholm. But the financial chaos was wholly beyond
his control. The government notes reckoned in gold were worth about
three cents on the dollar. The Government itself avoided accepting them.
It even bought up United States currency and used it in transacting the
business of the army. The extent of the financial collapse was to be
measured by such incidents as the following which is recounted in a
report that had passed under Davis's eye only a few weeks before the
"threat" of Bocock was uttered: "Those holding the four per cent
certificates complain that the Government as far as possible discredits
them. Fractions of hundreds cannot be paid with them. I saw a widow
lady, a few days since, offer to pay her taxes of $1,271.31 with a
certificate of $1,300. The tax-gatherer refused to give her the change
of $28.69. She then offered the whole certificate for the taxes. This
was refused. This apparent injustice touched her far more than the
amount of the taxes."

A letter addressed to the President from Griffin, Georgia, contained
this dreary picture:

Unless something is done and that speedily, there will be thousands of
the best citizens of the State and heretofore as loyal as any in the
Confederacy, that will not care one cent which army is victorious in
Georgia.... Since August last there have been thousands of cavalry and
wagon trains feeding upon our cornfields and for which our
quartermasters and officers in command of trains, regiments, battalions,
companies, and squads, have been giving the farmers receipts, and we
were all told these receipts would pay our government taxes and tithing;
and yet not one of them will be taken by our collector.... And yet we
are threatened with having our lands sold for taxes. Our scrip for corn
used by our generals will not be taken.... How is it that we have
certified claims upon our Government, past due ten months, and when we
enter the quartermaster's office we see placed up conspicuously in large
letters "no funds." Some of these said quartermasters [who] four years
ago were not worth the clothes upon their backs, are now large dealers
in lands, negroes, and real estate.

There was almost universal complaint that government contractors were
speculating in supplies and that the Impressment Law was used by
officials to cover their robbery of both the Government and the people.
Allowing for all the panic of the moment, one is forced to conclude that
the smoke is too dense not to cover a good deal of fire. In a word, at
the very time when local patriotism everywhere was drifting into
opposition to the general military command and when Congress was
reflecting this widespread loss of confidence, the Government was loudly
charged with inability to restrain graft. In all these accusations there
was much injustice. Conditions that the Government was powerless to
control were cruelly exaggerated, and the motives of the Government were
falsified. For all this exaggeration and falsification the press was
largely to blame. Moreover, the press, at least in dangerously large
proportion, was schooling the people to hold Davis personally
responsible for all their suffering. General Bragg was informed in a
letter from a correspondent in Mobile that "men have been taught to look
upon the President as an inexorably self-willed man who will see the
country to the devil before giving up an opinion or a purpose."

This deliberate fostering of an anti-Davis spirit might seem less
malicious if the fact were not known that many editors detested Davis
because of his desire to abolish the exemption of editors from
conscription. Their ignoble course brings to mind one of the few
sarcasms recorded of Lee--the remark that the great mistake of the South
was in making all its best military geniuses editors of newspapers. But
it must be added in all fairness that the great opposition journals,
such as the Mercury, took up this new issue with the President because
they professed to see in his attitude toward the press a determination
to suppress freedom of speech, so obsessed was the opposition with the
idea that Davis was a monster! Whatever explanations may be offered for
the prevalence of graft, the impotence of the Government at Richmond
contributed to the general demoralization. In regions like Georgia and
Alabama, the Confederacy was now powerless to control its agents.
Furthermore, in every effort to assume adequate control of the food
situation the Government met the continuous opposition of two groups of
opponents--the unscrupulous parasites and the bigots of economic and
constitutional theory. Of the activities of the first group, one
incident is sufficient to tell the whole story. At Richmond, in the
autumn of 1864, the grocers were selling rice at two dollars and a half
a pound. It happened that the Governor of Virginia was William Smith,
one of the strong men of the Confederacy who has not had his due from
the historians. He saw that even under the intolerable conditions of the
moment this price was shockingly exorbitant. To remedy matters, the
Governor took the State of Virginia into business, bought rice where it
was grown, imported it, and sold it in Richmond at fifty cents a pound,
with sufficient profit to cover all costs of handling.

Nevertheless, when Smith urged the Virginia Legislature to assume
control of business as a temporary measure, he was at once assailed by
the second group--those martinets of constitutionalism who would not
give up their cherished Anglo-Saxon tradition of complete individualism
in government. The Administration lost some of its staunchest supporters
the moment its later organ, the Sentinel, began advocating the general
regulation of prices. With ruin staring them in the face, these devotees
of tradition could only reiterate their ancient formulas, nail their
colors to the mast, end go down, satisfied that, if they failed with
these principles, they would have failed still more terribly without
them. Confronting the practical question how to prevent speculators from
charging 400 per cent profit, these men turned grim but did not abandon
their theory. In the latter part of 1864 they aligned themselves with
the opposition when the government commissioners of impressment fixed an
official schedule that boldly and ruthlessly cut under market prices.
The attitude of many such people was expressed by the Montgomery Mail
when it said:

"The tendency of the age, the march of the American people, is toward
monarchy, and unless the tide is stopped we shall reach something worse
than monarchy.

"Every step we have taken during the past four years has been in the
direction of military despotism.

"Half our laws are unconstitutional."

Another danger of the hour was the melting away of the Confederate army
under the very eyes of its commanders. The records showed that there
were 100,000 absentees. And though the wrathful officials of the Bureau
of Conscription labeled them all "deserters," the term covered great
numbers who had gone home to share the sufferings of their families.

Such in brief was the fateful background of the congressional attack
upon the Administration in January, 1865. Secretary Seddon, himself a
Virginian, believing that he was the main target of the hostility of the
Virginia delegation, insisted upon resigning. Davis met this
determination with firmness, not to say infatuation, and in spite of the
congressional crisis, exhausted every argument to persuade Seddon to
remain in office. He denied the right of Congress to control his
Cabinet, but he was finally constrained to allow Seddon to retire. The
bitterness inspired by these attempts to coerce the President may be
gauged by a remark attributed to Mrs. Davis. Speaking of the action of
Congress in forcing upon him the new plan for a single commanding
general of all the armies, she is said to have exclaimed, "I think I am
the proper person to advise Mr. Davis and if I were he, I would die or
be hung before I would submit to the humiliation."

Nevertheless the President surrendered to Congress. On January 26, 1865,
he signed the bill creating the office of commanding general and at once
bestowed the office upon Lee. It must not be supposed, however, that Lee
himself had the slightest sympathy with the congressional cabal which
had forced upon the President this reorganization of the army. In
accepting his new position he pointedly ignored Congress by remarking,
"I am indebted alone to the kindness of His Excellency, the President,
for my nomination to this high and arduous office."

The popular clamor for the restoration of Johnston had still to be
appeased. Disliking Johnston and knowing that the opposition was using a
popular general as a club with which to beat himself, Davis hesitated
long but in the end yielded to the inevitable. To make the reappointment
himself, however, was too humiliating. He left it to the new
commander-in-chief, who speedily restored Johnston to command.



While these factions, despite their disagreements, were making valiant
efforts to carry on the war, other factions were stealthily cutting the
ground from under them. There were two groups of men ripe for
disaffection--original Unionists unreconciled to the Confederacy and
indifferentists conscripted against their will.

History has been unduly silent about these disaffected men. At the time
so real was the belief in state rights that contemporaries were
reluctant to admit that any Southerner, once his State had seceded,
could fail to be loyal to its commands. Nevertheless in considerable
areas--such, for example, as East Tennessee--the majority remained to
the end openly for the Union, and there were large regions in the South
to which until quite recently the eye of the student had not been
turned. They were like deep shadows under mighty trees on the face of a
brilliant landscape. When the peasant Unionist who had been forced into
the army deserted, however, he found in these shadows a nucleus of
desperate men ready to combine with him in opposition to the local

Thus were formed local bands of free companions who pillaged the
civilian population. The desperadoes whom the deserters joined have been
described by Professor Dodd as the "neglected by-products" of the old
régime. They were broken white men, or the children of such, of the sort
that under other circumstances have congregated in the slums of great
cities. Though the South lacked great cities, nevertheless it had its
slum--a widespread slum, scattered among its swamps and forests. In
these fastnesses were the lowest of the poor whites, in whom hatred of
the dominant whites and vengeful malice against the negro burned like
slow fires. When almost everywhere the countryside was stripped of its
fighting men, these wretches emerged from their swamps and forests, like
the Paris rabble emerging from its dens at the opening of the
Revolution. But unlike the Frenchmen, they were too sodden to be capable
of ideas. Like predatory wild beasts they revenged themselves upon the
society that had cast them off, and with utter heartlessness they smote
the now defenseless negro. In the old days, with the country well
policed, the slaves had been protected against their fury, but war now
changed all. The negro villages--or "streets," as the term was--were
without arms and without white police within call. They were ravaged by
these marauders night after night, and negroes were not the only
victims, for in remote districts even murder of the whites became a
familiar horror.

The antiwar factions were not necessarily, however, users of violence.
There were some men who cherished a dream which they labeled
"reconstruction"; and there were certain others who believed in separate
state action, still clinging to the illusion that any State had it in
its power to escape from war by concluding a separate peace with the
United States.

Yet neither of these illusions made much headway in the States that had
borne the strain of intellectual leadership. Virginia and South
Carolina, though seldom seeing things eye to eye and finally drifting in
opposite directions, put but little faith in either "reconstruction" or
separate peace. Their leaders had learned the truth about men and
nations; they knew that life is a grim business; they knew that war had
unloosed passions that had to spend themselves and that could not be
talked away.

But there was scattered over the Confederacy a population which lacked
experience of the world and which included in the main those small
farmers and semipeasants who under the old régime were released from the
burden of taxation and at the same time excluded from the benefits of
education. Among these people the illusions of the higher classes were
reflected without the ballast of mentality. Ready to fight on any
provocation, yet circumscribed by their own natures, not understanding
life, unable to picture to themselves different types and conditions,
these people were as prone as children to confuse the world of their own
desire with the world of fact. When hardship came, when taxation fell
upon them with a great blow, when the war took a turn that necessitated
imagination for its understanding and faith for its pursuit, these
people with childlike simplicity immediately became panic-stricken. Like
the similar class in the North, they had measureless faith in talk.
Hence for them, as for Horace Greeley and many another, sprang up the
notion that if only all their sort could be brought together for talk
and talk and yet more talk, the Union could be "reconstructed" just as
it used to be, and the cruel war would end. Before their eyes, as before
Greeley in 1864, danced the fata morgana of a convention of all the
States, talking, talking, talking.

The peace illusion centered in North Carolina, where the people were as
enthusiastic for state sovereignty as were any Southerners. They had
seceded mainly because they felt that this principle had been attacked.
Having themselves little if any intention to promote slavery, they
nevertheless were prompt to resent interference with the system or with
any other Southern institution. Jonathan Worth said that they looked on
both abolition and secession as children of the devil, and he put the
responsibility for the secession of his State wholly upon Lincoln and
his attempt to coerce the lower South. This attitude was probably
characteristic of all classes in North Carolina. There also an unusually
large percentage of men lacked education and knowledge of the world. We
have seen how the first experience with taxation produced instant and
violent reaction. The peasant farmers of the western counties and the
general mass of the people began to distrust the planter class. They
began asking if their allies, the other States, were controlled by that
same class which seemed to be crushing them by the exaction of tithes.
And then the popular cry was raised: Was there after all anything in the
war for the masses in North Carolina? Had they left the frying-pan for
the fire? Could they better things by withdrawing from association with
their present allies and going back alone into the Union? The delusion
that they could do so whenever they pleased and on the old footing seems
to have been widespread. One of their catch phrases was "the
Constitution as it is and the Union as it was." Throughout 1863, when
the agitation against tithes was growing every day, the "conservatives"
of North Carolina, as their leaders named them, were drawing together in
a definite movement for peace. This project came to a head during the
next year in those grim days when Sherman was before Atlanta. Holden,
that champion of the opposition to tithes, became a candidate for
Governor against Vance, who was standing for reëlection. Holden stated
his platform in the organ of his party: "If the people of North Carolina
are for perpetual conscriptions, impressments and seizures to keep up a
perpetual, devastating and exhausting war, let them vote for Governor
Vance, for he is for 'fighting it out now'; but if they believe, from
the bitter experience of the last three years, that the sword can never
end it, and are in favor of steps being taken by the State to urge
negotiations by the general government for an honorable and speedy
peace, they must vote for Mr. Holden."

As Holden, however, was beaten by a vote that stood about three to one,
Governor Vance continued in power, but just what he stood for and just
what his supporters understood to be his policy would be hard to say. A
year earlier he was for attempting to negotiate peace, but though
professing to have come over to the war party he was never a cordial
supporter of the Confederacy. In a hundred ways he played upon the
strong local distrust of Richmond, and upon the feeling that North
Carolina was being exploited in the interests of the remainder of the
South. To cripple the efficiency of Confederate conscription was one of
his constant aims. Whatever his views of the struggle in which he was
engaged, they did not include either an appreciation of Southern
nationalism or the strategist's conception of war. Granted that the
other States were merely his allies, Vance pursued a course that might
justly have aroused their suspicion, for so far as he was able he
devoted the resources of the State wholly to the use of its own
citizens. The food and the manufactures of North Carolina were to be
used solely by its own troops, not by troops of the Confederacy raised
in other States. And yet, subsequent to his reëlection, he was not a
figure in the movement to negotiate peace.

Meanwhile in Georgia, where secession had met with powerful opposition,
the policies of the Government had produced discontent not only with the
management of the war but with the war itself. And now Alexander H.
Stephens becomes, for a season, very nearly the central figure of
Confederate history. Early in 1864 the new act suspending the writ of
habeas corpus had aroused the wrath of Georgia, and Stephens had become
the mouthpiece of the opposition. In an address to the Legislature, he
condemned in most exaggerated language not only the Habeas Corpus Act
but also the new Conscription Act. Soon afterward he wrote a long letter
to Herschel V. Johnson, who, like himself, had been an enemy of
secession in 1861. He said that if Johnson doubted that the Habeas
Corpus Act was a blow struck at the very "vitals of liberty," then he
"would not believe though one were to rise from the dead." In this
extraordinary letter Stephens went on "most confidentially" to state his
attitude toward Davis thus: "While I do not and never have regarded him
as a great man or statesman on a large scale, or a man of any marked
genius, yet I have regarded him as a man of good intentions, weak and
vacillating, timid, petulant, peevish, obstinate, but not firm. Am now
beginning to doubt his good intentions.... His whole policy on the
organization and discipline of the army is perfectly consistent with the
hypothesis that he is aiming at absolute power."

That a man of Stephens's ability should have dealt in fustian like this
in the most dreadful moment of Confederate history is a psychological
problem that is not easily solved. To be sure, Stephens was an extreme
instance of the martinet of constitutionalism. He reminds us of those
old-fashioned generals of whom Macaulay said that they preferred to lose
a battle according to rule than win it by an exception. Such men find it
easy to transform into a bugaboo any one who appears to them to be
acting irregularly. Stephens in his own mind had so transformed the
President. The enormous difficulties and the wholly abnormal
circumstances which surrounded Davis counted with Stephens for nothing
at all, and he reasoned about the Administration as if it were operating
in a vacuum. Having come to this extraordinary position, Stephens passed
easily into a rôle that verged upon treason. ¹

¹ There can be no question that Stephens never did anything which in his
own mind was in the least disloyal. And yet it was Stephens who, in the
autumn of 1864, was singled out by artful men as a possible figurehead
in the conduct of a separate peace negotiation with Sherman. A critic
very hostile to Stephens and his faction might here raise the question
as to what was at bottom the motive of Governor Brown, in the autumn of
1864, in withdrawing the Georgia militia from Hood's command. Was there
something afoot that has never quite revealed itself on the broad pages
of history? As ordinarily told, the story is simply that certain
desperate Georgians asked Stephens to be their ambassador to Sherman to
discuss terms; that Sherman had given them encouragement; but that
Stephens avoided the trap, and so nothing came of it. The recently
published correspondence of Toombs, Stephens, and Cobb, however,
contains one passage that has rather a startling sound. Brown, writing
to Stephens regarding his letter refusing to meet Sherman, says, "It
keeps the door open and I think this is wise." At the same time he made
a public statement that "Georgia has power to act independently but her
faith is pledged by implication to her Southern sisters ... will triumph
with her Southern sisters or sink with them in common ruin." It is still
to be discovered what "door" Stephens was supposed to have kept open.

Peace talk was now in the air, and especially was there chatter about
reconstruction. The illusionists seemed unable to perceive that the
reëlection of Lincoln had robbed them of their last card. These dreamers
did not even pause to wonder why after the terrible successes of the
Federal army in Georgia, Lincoln should be expected to reverse his
policy and restore the Union with the Southern States on the old
footing. The peace mania also invaded South Carolina and was espoused by
one of its Congressmen, Mr. Boyce, but he made few converts among his
own people. The Mercury scouted the idea; clear-sighted and
disillusioned, it saw the only alternatives to be victory or
subjugation. Boyce's argument was that the South had already succumbed
to military despotism and would have to endure it forever unless it
accepted the terms of the invaders. News of Boyce's attitude called
forth vigorous protest from the army before Petersburg, and even went so
far afield as New York, where it was discussed in the columns of the

In the midst of the Northern elections, when Davis was hoping great
things from the anti-Lincoln men, Stephens had said in print that he
believed Davis really wished the Northern peace party defeated,
whereupon Davis had written to him demanding reasons for this astounding
charge. To the letter, which had missed Stephens at his home and had
followed him late in the year to Richmond, Stephens wrote in the middle
of December a long reply which is one of the most curious documents in
American history. He justified himself upon two grounds. One was a
statement which Davis had made in a speech at Columbia, in October,
indicating that he was averse to the scheme of certain Northern peace
men for a convention of all the States. Stephens insisted that such a
convention would have ended the war and secured the independence of the
South. Davis cleared himself on this charge by saying that the speech at
Columbia "was delivered after the publication of McClellan's letter
avowing his purpose to force reunion by war if we declined
reconstruction when offered, and therefore warned the people against
delusive hopes of peace from any other influence than that to be exerted
by the manifestation of an unconquerable spirit."

As Stephens professed to have independence and not reconstruction for
his aim, he had missed his mark with this first shot. He fared still
worse with the second. During the previous spring a Northern soldier
captured in the southeast had appealed for parole on the ground that he
was a secret emissary to the President from the peace men of the North.
Davis, who did not take him seriously, gave orders to have the case
investigated, but Stephens, whose mentality in this period is so
curiously overcast, swallowed the prisoner's story without hesitation.
He and Davis had a considerable amount of correspondence on the subject.
In the fierce tension of the summer of 1864 the War Department went so
far as to have the man's character investigated, but the report was
unsatisfactory. He was not paroled and died in prison. This episode
Stephens now brought forward as evidence that Davis had frustrated an
attempt of the Northern peace party to negotiate. Davis contented
himself with replying, "I make no comment on this."

The next step in the peace intrigue took place at the opening of the
next year, 1865. Stephens attempted to address the Senate on his
favorite topic, the wickedness of the suspension of habeas corpus; was
halted by a point of parliamentary law; and when the Senate sustained an
appeal from his decision, left the chamber in a pique. Hunter, now a
Senator, became an envoy to placate him and succeeded in bringing him
back. Thereupon Stephens poured out his soul in a furious attack upon
the Administration. He ended by submitting resolutions which were just
what he might have submitted four years earlier before a gun had been
fired, so entirely had his mind crystallized in the stress of war! These
resolutions, besides reasserting the full state rights theory, assumed
the readiness of the North to make peace and called for a general
convention of all the States to draw up some new arrangement on a
confessed state rights basis. More than a month before, Lincoln had been
reëlected on an unequivocal nationalistic platform. And yet Stephens
continued to believe that the Northerners did not mean what they said
and that in congregated talking lay the magic which would change the
world of fact into the world of his own desire.

At this point in the peace intrigue the ambiguous figure of Napoleon the
Little reappears, though only to pass ghostlike across the back of the
stage. The determination of Northern leaders to oppose Napoleon had
suggested to shrewd politicians a possible change of front. That
singular member of the Confederate Congress, Henry S. Foote, thought he
saw in the Mexican imbroglio means to bring Lincoln to terms. In
November he had introduced into the House resolutions which intimated
that "it might become the true policy of ... the Confederate States to
consent to the yielding of the great principle embodied in the Monroe
Doctrine." The House referred his resolutions to the Committee on
Foreign Affairs, and there they slumbered until January.

Meanwhile a Northern politician brought on the specter of Napoleon for a
different purpose. Early in January, 1865, Francis P. Blair made a
journey to Richmond and proposed to Davis a plan of reconciliation
involving the complete abandonment of slavery, the reunion of all the
States, and an expedition against Mexico in which Davis was to play the
leading rôle. Davis cautiously refrained from committing himself, though
he gave Blair a letter in which he expressed his willingness to enter
into negotiations for peace between "the two countries." The visit of
Blair gave new impetus to the peace intrigue. The Confederate House
Committee on Foreign Affairs reported resolutions favoring an attempt to
negotiate with the United States so as to "bring into view" the
possibility of coöperation between the United States and the Confederacy
to maintain the Monroe Doctrine. The same day saw another singular
incident. For some reason that has never been divulged Foote determined
to counterbalance Blair's visit to Richmond by a visit of his own to
Washington. In attempting to pass through the Confederate lines he was
arrested by the military authorities. With this fiasco Foote passes from
the stage of history.

The doings of Blair, however, continued to be a topic of general
interest throughout January. The military intrigue was now simmering
down through the creation of the office of commanding general. The
attempt of the congressional opposition to drive the whole Cabinet from
office reached a compromise in the single retirement of the Secretary of
War. Before the end of the month the peace question was the paramount
one before Congress and the country. Newspapers discussed the movements
of Blair, apparently with little knowledge, and some of the papers
asserted hopefully that peace was within reach. Cooler heads, such as
the majority of the Virginia Legislature, rejected this idea as
baseless. The Mercury called the peace party the worst enemy of the
South. Lee was reported by the Richmond correspondent of the Mercury as
not caring a fig for the peace project. Nevertheless the rumor persisted
that Blair had offered peace on terms that the Confederacy could accept.
Late in the month, Davis appointed Stephens, Hunter, and John A.
Campbell commissioners to confer with the Northern authorities with
regard to peace.

There followed the famous conference of February 3, 1865, in the cabin
of a steamer at Hampton Roads, with Seward and Lincoln. The Confederate
commissioners represented two points of view: that of the
Administration, unwilling to make peace without independence; and that
of the infatuated Stephens who clung to the idea that Lincoln did not
mean what he said, and who now urged "an armistice allowing the States
to adjust themselves as suited their interests. If it would be to their
interests to reunite, they would do so." The refusal of Lincoln to
consider either of these points of view--the refusal so clearly foreseen
by Davis--put an end to the career of Stephens. He was "hoist with his
own petard."

The news of the failure of the conference was variously received. The
Mercury rejoiced because there was now no doubt how things stood.
Stephens, unwilling to coöperate with the Administration, left the
capital and went home to Georgia. At Richmond, though the snow lay thick
on the ground, a great public meeting was held on the 6th of February in
the precincts of the African Church. Here Davis made an address which
has been called his greatest and which produced a profound impression. A
wave of enthusiasm swept over Richmond, and for a moment the President
appeared once more to be master of the situation. His immense audacity
carried the people with him when, after showing what might be done by
more drastic enforcement of the conscription laws, he concluded: "Let us
then unite our hands and our hearts, lock our shields together, and we
may well believe that before another summer solstice falls upon us, it
will be the enemy that will be asking us for conferences and occasions
in which to make known our demands."


An Attempted Revolution

Almost from the moment when the South had declared its independence
voices had been raised in favor of arming the negroes. The rejection of
a plan to accomplish this was one of the incidents of Benjamin's tenure
of the portfolio of the War Department; but it was not until the early
days of 1864, when the forces of Johnston lay encamped at Dalton,
Georgia, that the arming of the slaves was seriously discussed by a
council of officers. Even then the proposal had its determined
champions, though there were others among Johnston's officers who
regarded it as "contrary to all true principles of chivalric warfare,"
and their votes prevailed in the council by a large majority.

From that time forward the question of arming the slaves hung like a
heavy cloud over all Confederate thought of the war. It was discussed in
the army and at home around troubled firesides. Letters written from the
trenches at Petersburg show that it was debated by the soldiers, and the
intense repugnance which the idea inspired in some minds was shown by
threats to leave the ranks if the slaves were given arms.

Amid the pressing, obvious issues of 1864, this project hardly appears
upon the face of the record until it was alluded to in Davis's message
to Congress in November, 1864, and in the annual report of the Secretary
of War. The President did not as yet ask for slave soldiers. He did,
however, ask for the privilege of buying slaves for government use--not
merely hiring them from their owners as had hitherto been done--and for
permission, if the Government so desired, to emancipate them at the end
of their service. The Secretary of War went farther, however, and
advocated negro soldiers, and he too suggested their emancipation at the
end of service.

This feeling of the temper of the country, so to speak, produced an
immediate response. It drew Rhett from his retirement and inspired a
letter in which he took the Government severely to task for designing to
remove from state control this matter of fundamental importance.
Coinciding with the cry for more troops with which to confront Sherman,
the topic of negro soldiers became at once one of the questions of the
hour. It helped to focus that violent anti-Davis movement which is the
conspicuous event of December, 1864, and January, 1865. Those who
believed the President unscrupulous trembled at the thought of putting
into his hands a great army of hardy barbarians trained to absolute
obedience. The prospect of such a weapon held in one firm hand at
Richmond seemed to those opponents of the President a greater menace to
their liberties than even the armies of the invaders. It is quite likely
that distrust of Davis and dread of the use he might make of such a
weapon was increased by a letter from Benjamin to Frederick A. Porcher
of Charleston, a supporter of the Government, who had made rash
suggestions as to the extraconstitutional power that the Administration
might be justified by circumstances in assuming. Benjamin deprecated
such suggestions but concluded with the unfortunate remark: "If the
Constitution is not to be our guide I would prefer to see it suppressed
by a revolution which should declare a dictatorship during the war,
after the manner of ancient Rome, leaving to the future the care of
reëstablishing firm and regular government."

In the State of Virginia, indeed, the revolutionary suggestions of the
President's message and the Secretary's report were promptly taken up
and made the basis of a political program, which Governor Smith embodied
in his message to the Legislature--a document that will eventually take
its place among the most interesting state papers of the Confederacy. It
should be noted that the suggestions thrown out in this way by the
Administration to test public feeling involved three distinct questions:
Should the slaves be given arms? Should they, if employed as soldiers,
be given their freedom? Should this revolutionary scheme, if accepted at
all, be handled by the general Government or left to the several States?
On the last of the three questions the Governor of Virginia was silent;
by implication he treated the matter as a concern of the States. Upon
the first and second questions, however, he was explicit and advised
arming the slaves. He then added:

Even if the result were to emancipate our slaves, there is not a man who
would not cheerfully put the negro into the Army rather than become a
slave himself to our hated and vindictive foe. It is, then, simply a
question of time. Has the time arrived when this issue is fairly before
us?... For my part standing before God and my country, I do not hesitate
to say that I would arm such portion of our able-bodied slave population
as may be necessary, and put them in the field, so as to have them ready
for the spring campaign, even if it resulted in the freedom of those
thus organized. Will I not employ them to fight the negro force of the
enemy? Aye, the Yankees themselves, who already boast that they have
200,000 of our slaves in arms against us. Can we hesitate, can we doubt,
when the question is, whether the enemy shall use our slaves against us
or we use them against him; when the question may be between liberty and
independence on the one hand, or our subjugation and utter ruin on the

With their Governor as leader for the Administration, the Virginians
found this issue the absorbing topic of the hour. And now the great
figure of Lee takes its rightful place at the very center of Confederate
history, not only military but civil, for to Lee the Virginia
politicians turned for advice. ¹ In a letter to a State Senator of
Virginia who had asked for a public expression of Lee's views because "a
mountain of prejudices, growing out of our ancient modes of regarding
the institution of Southern slavery will have to be met and overcome" in
order to attain unanimity, Lee discussed both the institution of slavery
and the situation of the moment. He plainly intimated that slavery
should be placed under state control; and, assuming such control, be
considered "the relation of master and slave ... the best that can exist
between the black and white races while intermingled as at present in
this country." He went on to show, however, that military necessity now
compelled a revolution in sentiment on this subject, and he came at last
to this momentous conclusion:

¹ Lee now revealed himself in his previously overlooked capacity of
statesman. Whether his abilities in this respect equaled his abilities
as a soldier need not here be considered; it is said that he himself had
no high opinion of them. However, in the advice which he gave at this
final moment of crisis, he expressed a definite conception of the
articulation of civil forces in such a system as that of the
Confederacy. He held that all initiative upon basal matters should
remain with the separate States, that the function of the general
Government was to administer, not to create conditions, and that the
proper power to constrain the State Legislatures was the flexible,
extra-legal power of public opinion.

Should the war continue under existing circumstances, the enemy may in
course of time penetrate our country and get access to a large part of
our negro population. It is his avowed policy to convert the able-bodied
men among them into soldiers, and to emancipate all.... His progress
will thus add to his numbers, and at the same time destroy slavery in a
manner most pernicious to the welfare of our people. Their negroes will
be used to hold them in subjection, leaving the remaining force of the
enemy free to extend his conquest. Whatever may be the effect of our
employing negro troops, it cannot be as mischievous as this. If it end
in subverting slavery it will be accomplished by ourselves, and we can
devise the means of alleviating the evil consequences to both races. I
think, therefore, we must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished
by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves
at the risk of the effects which may be produced upon our social
institutions ...

The reasons that induce me to recommend the employment of negro troops
at all render the effect of the measures ... upon slavery immaterial,
and in my opinion the best means of securing the efficiency and fidelity
of this auxiliary force would be to accompany the measure with a
well-digested plan of gradual and general emancipation. As that will be
the result of the continuance of the war, and will certainly occur if
the enemy succeed, it seems to me most advisable to adopt it at once,
and thereby obtain all the benefits that will accrue to our cause....

I can only say in conclusion, that whatever measures are to be adopted
should be adopted at once. Every day's delay increases the difficulty.
Much time will be required to organize and discipline the men, and
action may be deferred until it is too late.

Lee wrote these words on January 11, 1865. At that time a fresh wave of
despondency had gone over the South because of Hood's rout at Nashville;
Congress was debating intermittently the possible arming of the slaves;
and the newspapers were prophesying that the Administration would
presently force the issue. It is to be observed that Lee did not advise
Virginia to wait for Confederate action. He advocated emancipation by
the State. After all, to both Lee and Smith, Virginia was their

During the next sixty days Lee rejected two great opportunities--or, if
you will, put aside two great temptations. If tradition is to be
trusted, it was during January that Lee refused to play the rôle of
Cromwell by declining to intervene directly in general Confederate
politics. But there remained open the possibility of his intervention in
Virginia politics, and the local crisis was in its own way as momentous
as the general crisis. What if Virginia had accepted the views of Lee
and insisted upon the immediate arming of the slaves? Virginia, however,
did not do so; and Lee, having made public his position, refrained from
further participation. Politically speaking, he maintained a splendid
isolation at the head of the armies.

Through January and February the Virginia crisis continued undetermined.
In this period of fateful hesitation, the "mountains of prejudice"
proved too great to be undermined even by the influence of Lee. When at
last Virginia enacted a law permitting the arming of her slaves, no
provision was made for their manumission.

Long before the passage of this act in Virginia, Congress had become the
center of the controversy. Davis had come to the point where no
tradition however cherished would stand, in his mind, against the needs
of the moment. To reinforce the army in great strength was now his
supreme concern, and he saw but one way to do it. As a last resort he
was prepared to embrace the bold plan which so many people still
regarded with horror and which as late as the previous November he
himself had opposed. He would arm the slaves. On February 10, 1865,
bills providing for the arming of the slaves were introduced both in the
House and in the Senate.

On this issue all the forces both of the Government and the opposition
fought their concluding duel in which were involved all the other basal
issues that had distracted the country since 1862. Naturally there was a
bewildering criss-cross of political motives. There were men who, like
Smith and Lee, would go along with the Government on emancipation,
provided it was to be carried out by the free will of the States. There
were others who preferred subjugation to the arming of the slaves; and
among these there were clashings of motive. Then, too, there were those
who were willing to arm the slaves but were resolved not to give them
their freedom.

The debate brings to the front of the political stage the figure of
R. M. T. Hunter. Hitherto his part has not been conspicuous either as
Secretary of State or as Senator from Virginia. He now becomes, in the
words of Davis, "a chief obstacle" to the passage of the Senate bill
which would have authorized a levy of negro troops and provided for
their manumission by the War Department with the consent of the State in
which they should be at the time of the proposed manumission. After long
discussion, this bill was indefinitely postponed. Meanwhile a very
different bill had dragged through the House. While it was under debate,
another appeal was made to Lee. Barksdale, who came as near as any one
to being the leader of the Administration, sought Lee's aid. Again the
General urged the enrollment of negro soldiers and their eventual
manumission, but added this immensely significant proviso:

I have no doubt that if Congress would authorize their [the negroes']
reception into service, and empower the President to call upon
individuals or States for such as they are willing to contribute, with
the condition of emancipation to all enrolled, a sufficient number would
be forthcoming to enable us to try the experiment [of determining
whether the slaves would make good soldiers]. If it proved successful,
most of the objections to the measure would disappear, and if
individuals still remained unwilling to send their negroes to the army,
the force of public opinion in the States would soon bring about such
legislation as would remove all obstacles. I think the matter should be
left, as far as possible, to the people and to the States, which alone
can legislate as the necessities of this particular service may require.

The fact that Congress had before it this advice from Lee explains why
all factions accepted a compromise bill, passed on the 9th of March,
approved by the President on the 13th of March, and issued to the
country in a general order on the 23d of March. It empowered the
President to "ask for and accept from the owners of slaves" the service
of such number of negroes as he saw fit, and if sufficient number were
not offered to "call on each State ... for her quota of 300,000 troops
... to be raised from such classes of the population, irrespective of
color, in each State as the proper authorities thereof may determine."
However, "nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize a change
in the relation which the said slaves shall bear toward their owners,
except by consent of the owners and of the States in which they may
reside and in pursuance of the laws thereof."

The results of this act were negligible. Its failure to offer the
slave-soldier his freedom was at once seized upon by critics as evidence
of the futility of the course of the Administration. The sneer went
round that the negro was to be made to fight for his own captivity.
Pollard--whose words, however, must be taken with a grain of salt--has
left this account of recruiting under the new act: "Two companies of
blacks, organized from some negro vagabonds in Richmond, were allowed to
give balls at the Libby Prison and were exhibited in fine fresh uniforms
on Capitol Square as decoys to obtain recruits. But the mass of their
colored brethren looked on the parade with unenvious eyes, and little
boys exhibited the early prejudices of race by pelting the fine uniforms
with mud."

Nevertheless both Davis and Lee busied themselves in the endeavor to
raise black troops. Governor Smith coöperated with them. And in the mind
of the President there was no abandonment of the program of
emancipation, which was now his cardinal policy. Soon after the passage
of the act, he wrote to Smith: "I am happy to receive your assurance of
success [in raising black troops], as well as your promise to seek
legislation to secure unmistakable freedom to the slave who shall enter
the Army, with a right to return to his old home, when he shall have
been honorably discharged from military service."

While this final controversy was being fought out in Congress, the
enthusiasm for the Administration had again ebbed. Its recovery of
prestige had run a brief course and was gone, and now in the midst of
the discussion over the negro soldiers' bills, the opposition once more
attacked the Cabinet, with its old enemy, Benjamin, as the target.
Resolutions were introduced into the Senate declaring that "the
retirement of the Honorable Judah P. Benjamin from the State Department
will be subservient of the public interests"; in the House resolutions
were offered describing his public utterances as "derogatory to his
position as a high public functionary of the Confederate Government, a
reflection on the motives of Congress as a deliberative body, and an
insult to public opinion."

So Congress wrangled and delayed while the wave of fire that was
Sherman's advance moved northward through the Carolinas. Columbia had
gone up in smoke while the Senate debated day after day--fifteen in
all--what to do with the compromise bill sent up to it from the House.
It was during this period that a new complication appears to have been
added to a situation which was already so hopelessly entangled, for this
was the time when Governor Magrath made a proposal to Governor Vance for
a league within the Confederacy, giving as his chief reason that
Virginia's interests were parting company with those of the lower South.
The same doubt of the upper South appears at various times in the
Mercury. And through all the tactics of the opposition runs the constant
effort to discredit Davis. The Mercury scoffed at the agitation for
negro soldiers as a mad attempt on the part of the Administration to
remedy its "myriad previous blunders."

In these terrible days, the mind of Davis hardened. He became possessed
by a lofty and intolerant confidence, an absolute conviction that, in
spite of all appearances, he was on the threshold of success. We may
safely ascribe to him in these days that illusory state of mind which
has characterized some of the greatest of men in their over-strained,
concluding periods. His extraordinary promises in his later messages, a
series of vain prophecies beginning with his speech at the African
Church, remind one of Napoleon after Leipzig refusing the Rhine as a
boundary. His nerves, too, were all but at the breaking-point. He sent
the Senate a scolding message because of its delay in passing the Negro
Soldiers' Bill. The Senate answered in a report that was sharply
critical of his own course. Shortly afterward Congress adjourned
refusing his request for another suspension of the writ of habeas

Davis had hinted at important matters he hoped soon to be able to submit
to Congress. What he had in mind was the last, the boldest, stroke of
this period of desperation. The policy of emancipation he and Benjamin
had accepted without reserve. They had at last perceived, too late, the
power of the anti-slavery movement in Europe. Though they had already
failed to coerce England through cotton and had been played with and
abandoned by Napoleon, they persisted in thinking that there was still a
chance for a third chapter in their foreign affairs.

The agitation to arm the slaves, with the promise of freedom, had
another motive besides the reinforcement of Lee's army: it was intended
to serve as a basis for negotiations with England and France. To that
end D. J. Kenner was dispatched to Europe early in 1865. Passing through
New York in disguise, he carried word of this revolutionary program to
the Confederate commissioners abroad. A conference at Paris was held by
Kenner, Mason, and Slidell. Mason, who had gone over to England to sound
Palmerston with regard to this last Confederate hope, was received on
the 14th of March. On the previous day, Davis had accepted temporary
defeat, by signing the compromise bill which omitted emancipation. But
as there was no cable operating at the time, Mason was not aware of this
rebuff. In his own words, he "urged upon Lord P. that if the President
was right in his impression that there was some latent, undisclosed
obstacle on the part of Great Britain to recognition, it should be
frankly stated, and we might, if in our power to do so, consent to
remove it." Palmerston, though his manner was "conciliatory and kind,"
insisted that there was nothing "underlying" his previous statements,
and that he could not, in view of the facts then existing, regard the
Confederacy in the light of an independent power. Mason parted from him
convinced that "the most ample concessions on our part in the matter
referred to would have produced no change in the course determined on by
the British Government with regard to recognition." In a subsequent
interview with Lord Donoughmore, he was frankly told that the offer of
emancipation had come too late.

The dispatch in which Mason reported the attitude of the British
Government never reached the Confederate authorities. It was dated the
31st of March. Two days later Richmond was evacuated by the Confederate


The Last Word

The evacuation of Richmond broke the back of the Confederate defense.
Congress had adjourned. The legislative history of the Confederacy was
at an end. The executive history still had a few days to run. After
destroying great quantities of records, the government officials had
packed the remainder on a long train that conveyed the President and
what was left of the civil service to Danville. During a few days,
Danville was the Confederate capital. There, Davis, still unable to
conceive defeat, issued his pathetic last Address to the People of the
Confederate States. His mind was crystallized. He was no longer capable
of judging facts. In as confident tones as ever he promised his people
that they should yet prevail; he assured Virginians that even if the
Confederate army should withdraw further south the withdrawal would be
but temporary, and that "again and again will we return until the
baffled and exhausted enemy shall abandon in despair his endless and
impossible task of making slaves of a people resolved to be free."

The surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, compelled another
migration of the dwindling executive company. General Johnston had not
yet surrendered. A conference which he had with the President and the
Cabinet at Greensboro ended in giving him permission to negotiate with
Sherman. Even then Davis was still bent on keeping up the fight; yet,
though he believed that Sherman would reject Johnston's overtures, he
was overtaken at Charlotte on his way South by the crushing news of
Johnston's surrender. There the executive history of the Confederacy
came to an end in a final Cabinet meeting. Davis, still blindly resolute
to continue the struggle, was deeply distressed by the determination of
his advisers to abandon it. In imminent danger of capture, the
President's party made its way to Abbeville, where it broke up, and each
member sought safety as best he could. Davis with a few faithful men
rode to Irwinsville, Georgia, where, in the early morning of the 10th of
May, he was surprised and captured. But the history of the Confederacy
was not quite at an end. The last gunshots were still to be fired far
away in Texas on the 13th of May. The surrender of the forces of the
Trans-Mississippi on May 26, 1865, brought the war to a definite

There remains one incident of these closing days, the significance of
which was not perceived until long afterward, when it immediately took
its rightful place among the determining events of American history. The
unconquerable spirit of the Army of Northern Virginia found its last
expression in a proposal which was made to Lee by his officers. If he
would give the word, they would make the war a duel to the death; it
should drag out in relentless guerrilla struggles; and there should be
no pacification of the South until the fighting classes had been
exterminated. Considering what those classes were, considering the
qualities that could be handed on to their posterity, one realizes that
this suicide of a whole people, of a noble fighting people, would have
maimed incalculably the America of the future. But though the heroism of
this proposal of his men to die on their shields had its stern charm for
so brave a man as Lee, he refused to consider it. He would not admit
that he and his people had a right thus to extinguish their power to
help mold the future, no matter whether it be the future they desired or
not. The result of battle must be accepted. The Southern spirit must not
perish, luxuriating blindly in despair, but must find a new form of
expression, must become part of the new world that was to be, must look
to a new birth under new conditions. In this spirit he issued to his
army his last address:

After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and
fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to
overwhelming numbers and resources. I need not tell the survivors of so
many hard-fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that
I have consented to the result from no distrust of them; but feeling
that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate
for the loss that would have attended the continuation of the contest, I
determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services
have endeared them to their countrymen.... I bid you an affectionate

How inevitably one calls to mind, in view of the indomitable valor of
Lee's final decision, those great lines from Tennyson:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will.


There is no adequate history of the Confederacy. It is rumored that a
distinguished scholar has a great work approaching completion. It is
also rumored that another scholar, well equipped to do so, will soon
bring out a monumental life of Davis. But the fact remains that as yet
we lack a comprehensive review of the Confederate episode set in proper
perspective. Standard works such as the History of the United States
from the Compromise of 1850, by J. F. Rhodes (7 vols., 1893-1906), even
when otherwise as near a classic as is the work of Mr. Rhodes, treat the
Confederacy so externally as to have in this respect little value. The
one searching study of the subject, The Confederate States of America,
by J. C. Schwab (1901), though admirable in its way, is wholly
overshadowed by the point of view of the economist. The same is to be
said of the article by Professor Schwab in the 11th edition of The
Encyclopædia Britannica.

Two famous discussions of the episode by participants are: The Rise and
Fall of the Confederate Government, by the President of the Confederacy
(2 vols., 1881), and A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the
States, by Alexander H. Stephens (2 vols., 1870). Both works, though
invaluable to the student, are tinged with controversy, each of the
eminent authors aiming to refute the arguments of political antagonists.

The military history of the time has so overshadowed the civil, in the
minds of most students, that we are still sadly in need of careful,
disinterested studies of the great figures of Confederate civil affairs.
Jefferson Davis, by William E. Dodd (American Crisis Biographies, 1907),
is the standard life of the President, superseding older ones. Not so
satisfactory in the same series is Judah P. Benjamin, by Pierce Butler
(1907), and Alexander H. Stephens, by Louis Pendleton (1907). Older
works which are valuable for the material they contain are: Memoir of
Jefferson Davis, by his Wife (1890); The Life and Times of Alexander H.
Stephens, by R. M. Johnston and W. M. Browne (1878); The Life and Times
of William Lowndes Yancey, by J. W. Du Bose (1892); The Life, Times, and
Speeches of Joseph E. Brown, by Herbert Fielder (1883); Public Life and
Diplomatic Correspondence of James M. Mason, by his Daughter (1903); The
Life and Time of C. G. Memminger, by H. D. Capers (1893). The writings
of E. A. Pollard cannot be disregarded, but must be taken as the violent
expression of an extreme partizan. They include a Life of Jefferson
Davis (1869) and The Lost Cause (1867). A charming series of essays is
Confederate Portraits, by Gamaliel Bradford (1914). Among books on
special topics that are to be recommended are: The Diplomatic History of
the Southern Confederacy by J. M. Callahan (1901); France and the
Confederate Navy, by John Bigelow (1888); and The Secret Service of the
Confederate States in Europe, by J. D. Bulloch (2 vols., 1884). There is
a large number of contemporary accounts of life in the Confederacy.
Historians have generally given excessive attention to A Rebel War
Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, by J. B. Jones (2
vols., 1866) which has really neither more nor less value than a
Richmond newspaper. Conspicuous among writings of this type is the
delightful Diary from Dixie, by Mrs. Mary B. Chestnut (1905) and My
Diary, North and South, by W. H. Russell (1862).

The documents of the civil history, so far as they are accessible to the
general reader, are to be found in the three volumes forming the fourth
series of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (128
vols., 1880-1901); the Journals of the Congress of the Confederate
States (8 vols., 1904) and Messages and Papers of the Confederacy,
edited by J. D. Richardson (2 vols., 1905). Four newspapers are of first
importance: the famous opposition organs, the Richmond Examiner and the
Charleston Mercury, which should be offset by the two leading organs of
the Government, the Courier of Charleston and the Enquirer of Richmond.
The Statutes of the Confederacy have been collected and published; most
of them are also to be found in the fourth series of the Official

Additional bibliographical references will be found appended to the
articles on the Confederate States of America, Secession, and Jefferson
Davis, in The Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition.

Alabama, represented at South Carolina convention, 3; secedes, 7;
convention, 8; situation in, 74, 114-120; iron for munitions from, 106;
questions of state sovereignty in, 116-119.
Alabama, The (ship), 53, 135, 139.
Anderson, Major Robert, transfers garrison to Sumter, 6; refuses
Beauregard's demands, 15-16; see also Sumter.
Antietam campaign, 53, 58.
Appomattox, surrender at, 201.
Arkansas, 14, 74, 112, 113, 114.
Arman, shipbuilder of Bordeaux, 132, 133, 135, 140, 143-144.
Army, composition and size of, 36-37; state armies, 38, 72; difficulty
of enlisting, 76; lack of shoes for, 77-78; desertion, 110, 120, 162,
166; surrenders, 201-202; see also Conscription, Military policy.
Ayer, L. M., of South Carolina, 88.

Baldwin, of Virginia, tells of martial law, 84.
Barksdale, Ethelbert, of Mississippi, 82, 84-85, 192.
Beauregard, General P. G. T., and the surrender of Fort Sumter, 15-24;
in Georgia, 148, 149.
Benjamin, J. P., signs To Our Constituents, 3; Attorney-General, 27;
Secretary of War, 34, 79 (note); Secretary of State, 34, 40; complaints
against, 40, 63-64; life and character, 69-71; denounces Napoleon, 144;
on extraconstitutional power, 185; attacked by Congress, 195; accepts
policy of emancipation, 197.
Blair, F. P., plan of reconciliation, 179-180.
Blockade, 51, 56, 77, 105.
Bocock, T. S., Speaker of House, 156.
Bonds, see Finance.
Boyce, of South Carolina, argument for peace, 175.
Bragg, General Braxton, plan to invade Kentucky, 44; attitude toward
press, 59; Davis's confidence in, 69; army conditions under, 96; resigns
command, 113-114.
Breckinridge, General J. C., Secretary of War, 79 (note).
Brown, J. E., Governor of Georgia, on secession, 5, 6-7; on
conscription, 65-66, 75-76; opponent of Administration, 145-149;
motives, 174 (note).
Bull Run, Battle of, see Manassas.
Bullock, Captain James, 135-136.
Butler, A. P., of South Carolina, 4.

Cabinet, 14-15, 27, 34, 40, 69.
Campbell, J. A., Confederate commissioner at Hampton Roads, 180.
Canada, Confederate agents in, 126-127.
Chancellorsville, 89.
Charleston, 15 et seq., 97.
Charleston Courier, 18, 21-22, 61-62, 94, 95, 97.
Charleston Mercury, describes siege of Sumter, 20; opposes
Administration, 33, 39, 43, 61-62, 95, 151, 152, 154; on conscription,
64; on Seddon's appointment, 79; on Impressment Act, 80; on Tax Act, 81;
on suspension of habeas corpus, 82-83, 85-86; issue of conduct of war,
89, 90; account of President's visit to Charleston, 97; on peace, 175,
180; doubts upper South, 196; on negro soldiers, 196.
Chattanooga, 113.
Chestnut, James, 18 (note).
Chevalier, Michel, 138.
Chickamauga campaign, 96, 113.
Clay, C. C., 127.
Cobb, Howell, 146, 154-155.
Cold Harbor, 126.
Columbia and Augusta Railroad Company, 152-153.
"Confederate Societies," 95.
Confederate States, provisional government organized, 10-11; status of
belligerent accorded by England, 35; clash with state authority, 38-40;
archives threatened, 42; period of elation, 43-44; foreign affairs, 46
et seq.; 130 et seq.; secrecy of government, 59, 60, 65, 66; divided
into separate units, 74; impotence of government, 160; anti-war factions
in, 165-167; war ended, 202; see also Davis, South.
Congress, Confederate, 9-11.
Congress, U. S., House committee of thirty-three, 2, 13.
Conscription, adopted, 37-38; constitutionality attacked, 39; Pollard's
criticism of enforcement, 64; correspondence of Davis and Brown on,
65-66; Rhett's opinion of, 73; opposition to, 75-77; exemptions, 102,
123-124; hiring of substitutes, 103; failure of State and Confederate
governments to coöperate, 116, 151; age limits, 122-123.
Constitution, Confederate, 10-11.
Corinth, 53.
Cotton, to solve financial problem, 45-46; necessary to English, 46;
effect of blockade, 51-57; powerless to coerce England, 56.

Danville, Confederate capital, 200.
Davis, Jefferson, signs To Our Constituents, 3; elected President in
provisional Government, 11; as President, 15, 24 et seq.; from
Mississippi, 29; born in Kentucky, 30; early life, 31-32; personal
characteristics, 32; military activities, 33; criticism of, 33-34, 43,
61-65, 89-90, 159-160, 175; President at first regular election, 34;
inauguration, 35-36; message to Congress (1862), 36; proposes
conscription, 37; vetoes Texas Regiment Bill, 38; clash with state
authority, 38-40; use of martial law, 40-42; at height of powers, 43;
shortcomings, 67-69; relations with Lee, 68; Cabinet, 69; personal
loyalty, 70; statecraft, 71; endorses "Confederate Societies," 95;
journeys during Administration, 96-97; message to Congress (1863), 114;
message to Congress (1864), 119-120; in Georgia, 144, 148-149; forced to
reorganize army, 163-164; confident of Confederate success, 182,
196-197; signs compromise bill, 198; Address to the People of the
Confederate States, 200-201; resolute to continue struggle, 201; capture
at Irwinsville, Ga., 201.
Davis, Mrs. Jefferson, quoted, 67-68, 163.
Davis, Reuben, quoted, 67.
Deserters, 110, 120, 162, 166.
Desperadoes, 111, 166-167.
Donelson, Fort, 36, 40, 58.
Donoughmore, Lord, Mason interviews, 199.
Draft, see Conscription.

Egypt enters cotton competition, 56-57.
Elmore, of Alabama, addresses South Carolina convention, 3.
Emancipation, 184, 197, 198; Proclamation, 53, 77.
England, attitude toward Confederacy, 35, 46-47, 54, 56, 198-199;
mission to, 46; effort to coerce, 51-52; Mason in, 52-53; cotton famine
in, 53; bitterness against, 77, 137-138; "Southern party," 135, 136;
shipbuilding investigations, 135-136; decides France's attitude, 142.
Erlanger, Émile, 54-56, 131, 133.
Exemptions, 102, 123-124.

Finance, 45, 48; specie seized, 49; "fifteen million loan," 49; war tax,
49-50; loans, 50; note issues, 50; "hundred million loan," 51; "Erlanger
bonds," 54-56; price fixing, 78; 79, 80, 90-91, 95; Impressment Act, 80;
tax in kind, 80-81, 91, 92, 125; licensing of occupations, 81, 91;
income tax, 81, 91; property tax, 81; Funding Act, 81 (note), 125;
financial breakdown, 157-158.
Florida, 7, 74.
Florida, The, Confederate cruiser, 139.
Floyd, J. B., U. S. Secretary of War, resignation, 5, 6.
Food situation, 77, 108-109, 160-161.
Foote, H. S., 29, 84, 178, 179-180.
Forey, General, dispatched to Mexico, 132.
France, see Napoleon.
France, Mexico, and the Confederate Slates, 138.

Georgia, 74; secession issue in, 4-8; state sovereignty in, 65-66,
75-76; unrest in, 94, 158, 172; invaded, 127-129, 145-150.
Gettysburg, Battle of, 88, 89.
Grant, General U. S., crosses Rapidan, 126; at Cold Harbor, 126.

Habeas corpus acts, 41, 59, 82-86, 116-118, 119-120; 122, 197.
"Heroes of America," 120-121.
Hindman, General T. C., 84.
Holden, W. W., of North Carolina, 93, 170-171.
Hood, General J. B., 129, 147.
Hooker, of Mississippi, 3.
Houston, Sam, Governor of Texas, 8-9.
Hunter, R. M. T., Secretary of State, 34, 69; in Senate, 177;
Confederate commissioner at Hampton Roads, 180; opposes levy of negro
troops, 192.
Huntsville (Ala.), 118-119.

Impressment Act, 80, 90-91, 159.
Index, The, Confederate foreign organ, 62 (note).
India begins to export cotton, 56.
Industries in the South, 105-107.
Ismail Pasha, 56, 57.

Johnson, H. V., 172.
Johnston, A. S., 42-43.
Johnston, General J. E., 69; succeeds Bragg in command, 114; lower South
demands removal of, 128; superseded by Hood, 129; appeals for
restoration of, 154, 156; restored to command, 164; surrenders, 201.
Johnston, Fort, 17, 20.

Kenesaw Mountain, 127.
Kenner, D. J., dispatched to Europe, 197-198.
Kentucky, 63; plan of Confederacy to win, 44.

Labor, 100-102, 152-153.
Laird rams controversy, 135-136, 137.
Lee, General R. E., inspires army, 43-44; to invade Maryland, 44; and
Davis, 68-69; demand of full command for, 154, 156; conspiracy to set up
as dictator, 155; made commanding general, 163; opinion of peace
project, 180; as statesman, 187-190; officers propose to continue
fighting, 202-203; address to army, 203.
Lee, Stephen, 18 (note).
Lincoln, Abraham, reëlection, 175, 178; conference at Hampton Roads,
Louisiana, 7, 42, 74, 112, 113, 114.

McClellan, General G. B., 42, 127.
Magrath, A. G., Governor of South Carolina, 152, 153-154, 196.
Manassas, Battle of, 33; Second, 43, 59.
Mann, A. D., Confederate commissioner at Brussels, 46, 132-133, 142.
Martial law, see Habeas corpus. Maryland, plan of Confederate States to
win, 44.
Mason, J. M., capture of, 46; replaces Yancey as commissioner, 47; in
England, 52-53, 55, 198-199; in Paris, 137-138, 198.
Memminger, C. G., Secretary of Treasury, attempts to establish foreign
credit, 48; resigns, 157; see also Finance.
Mexico, 114; Napoleon III and, 131, 132-133, 134, 138, 139; Confederate
negotiations with, 139-140, 144; project condemned by French people,
143; expedition suggested, 179.
Military policy, 33, 43-44.
Mississippi, represented in South Carolina convention, 3; secedes, 7;
typical of new order in South, 29-31; sense of Southern nationality, 31;
status of, 74, 114-115.
Mobile Bay, capture of, 129.
Montgomery (Ala.), general Congress of seceding States at, 9-11.
Montgomery Mail, 162.
Moultrie, Fort, 6, 20.
Munitions, 33, 48, 61, 65, 105-106.

Napoleon III, offers mediation, 54, 77; intrigues with Confederacy, 130
et seq.; Italian policy, 134, 143; purpose exposed, 142; influence in
Mexican policy of the South, 178.
New Orleans, loss of, 42, 74.
New York Herald, 175.
Niter and Mining Bureau supplies powder for South, 106.
North Carolina, resolutions concerning Congress of seceding States,
9-10; against secession, 12; secedes, 14; state rights, 12, 39;
political life in, 74; protests tithes, 92; disorder in, 93-94;
anti-Davis tendencies in, 94; peace illusion in, 169-170; see also
North Carolina Standard, 93.

Palmerston, Lord, British Prime Minister, Mason interviews, 198.
Peace, 93, 120, 121-122, 126-127, 169-170, 175-182, 202.
Peace Convention, 13.
"Peace Society," 121-122.
Peninsular campaign, 42, 59.
Perryville, Battle of, 53.
Petersburg (Va.), 107-108.
Pierce, Bishop, quoted, 109.
Pike, General Albert, 84.
Pollard, E. A., 62, 66, 69, 87; The First Year of the War, 62-64.
Porcher, F. A., 185.
Prentiss, S. S., 29.
Press, Freedom of, 59.
Preston, General J. S., 151.
Preston, General William, 140, 144.
Price-fixing, see Finance.
Profiteering, 78-79, 95, 108-109, 161-162.
Pryor, R. A., 13, 17-18 (note).
Pulaski, Fort, seized, 6.

Quitman, J. A., 29.

Raleigh Progress, 93.
Ramsdell, C. W., The Confederate Government and the Railroads, cited,
108 (note).
Randolph, G. W., Secretary of War, 79 (note).
Refugees, 110-111.
Rhett, R. B., leader of secession movement of 1850-1851, 4; candidate
for President of Confederate States, 24; disappointment, 25, 26; on
state army, 72-73; retires, 87, 88-89; on arming the negroes, 184.
Rhodes, J. F., History of the United States, cited, 6 (note).
Richmond (Va.), capital of Confederacy, 34-35; martial law in, 41-42,
85; evacuated, 199.
Richmond Enquirer, government organ, 62, 82-83, 94, 95.
Richmond Examiner, opposition newspaper, 43, 62, 64-65, 80.
Richmond Sentinel, government organ, 94, 95, 161.
Richmond Whig, 80.
Rives, W. C., 155.
Roanoke Island, 36, 40, 63.
Roebuck, J. A., 136-137.
Rost, Confederate commissioner to Europe, 46.

Secession movement, 1 et seq.; of 1850-51, 3-4.
Secrecy of Administration, 59, 60, 65, 66.
Seddon, J. A., Secretary of War, 79, 112, 113, 147; resigns, 163, 180.
Selma (Ala.), foundry at, 105.
Seven Pines (Va.), 59.
Seward, W. H., at Hampton Roads conference, 181.
Sherman, General W. T., Georgia campaign, 126, 127-129, 150.
Slaves, 53, 167: not directly taxed, 91, 125; relation of Government to,
99-102; "Fifteen Slave" Law, 102-103; arming of, 183 et seq.; see also
Slave-trade, African, prohibited, 11 (note), 99-100.
Slidell, John, capture of, 46; Confederate commissioner at Paris, 54;
and Napoleon, 130 et seq.; conference at Paris, 198.
Smith, G. W., 79 (note).
Smith, William, Governor of Virginia, 161, 186-187.
South, division in, 28 et seq.; life in, 99 et seq.
South Carolina, convention (1860), 2-4; secedes, 4; community of
aristocratic class, 28-29; question of state sovereignty in, 72;
political life in, 73-75; anti-Davis, 88; situation in 1864, 150-152;
passes State Conscription Act, 151.
Southern Advertiser, 117.
State sovereignty, 8, 12, 39, 56, 65-66, 71 et seq., 116-118, 169.
Stephens, A. H., leads opposition to secession, 7; on state sovereignty,
8; Vice-President in provisional Government, 11; a conservative, 27;
elected Vice-President at first regular election, 34; as central figure
in South, 172-174; on question of peace, 175-178; commissioner at
Hampton Roads conference, 180, 181.
Stephens, Linton, 76.
Substitutes, Hiring, 92, 103.
Sumter, Fort, 6; attack on, 14-23.

Taxation, see Finance.
Tennessee, 14, 74.
Texas, secedes, 7; secession issue in, 9; proposes regiment for home
defense, 38; last gunshots of war, 202; see also Trans-Mississippi.
Thompson, Jacob, 29, 127.
To Our Constituents, 2-3.
Toombs, Robert, gives information about Fort Pulaski, 6; a secessionist,
7; Secretary of State, 14, 27, 69; and Sumter, 14-15; candidate for
President, 24; leaves Cabinet, 34.
Trans-Mississippi, 74, 112, 113, 114.
Transportation, 107-108.
Tredegar Iron Works, 105.
Trenholm, G. A., 157.

Vance, Z. B., Governor of North Carolina, on military arrangements,
76-77; seeks to regulate prices, 78; proclamation to urge order, 93-94;
urges political changes, 154; reëlection, 170-171; policy, 171-172.
Van Dorn, General Earl, 44, 59.
Vicksburg (Miss.), 89-90, 96, 112-113.
Virginia, and secession, 11-14; calls Peace Convention, 13; political
life in, 74-75, 161, 186-187; see also Richmond.
Voruz, shipbuilder of Nantes, 140.

Walker, L. P., 34, 79 (note).
Walker, R. J., 29.
Wheeler, Joseph, 118.
Winder, J. H., 41.
Women, position in Confederacy, 104-105, 110-111.
Worth, Jonathan, 93, 169.

Yancey, W. L., influence of, 25-26, commissioner to England, 25, 46, 47;
relieved by Mason, 47; incident at Havana, 47; attempts to abolish
secrecy of Government, 59-60; death, 87.

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Transcriber's Notes


The Chronicles of America Series has two similar editions of each volume
in the series. One version is the Abraham Lincoln edition of the series,
a premium version which includes full-page pictures. A textbook edition
was also produced, which does not contain the pictures and captions
associated with the pictures, but is otherwise the same book. This book
was produced to match the textbook edition of the book.

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that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.