During my voyage home in the China
, I had an opportunity of discussing with many intelligent Northern gentlemen all that I had seen in my Southern travels.
We did so in a very amicable spirit, and I think they rendered justice to my wish to explain to them without exaggeration the state of feeling amongst their enemies.
Although these Northerners belonged to quite the upper classes, and were not likely to be led blindly by the absurd nonsense of the sensation press at New York, yet their ignorance of the state of the case in the South
was very great.
The recent successes had given them the impression that the last card of the South
was about to fall; Mobile
, and Wilmington
would quickly follow; Lee
's army they thought, was a disheartened, disorganized mob; Bragg
's army in a still worse condition, fleeing before Rosecrans
, who would carry every thing before him. They felt confident that the fall of the Mississippian
fortresses would prevent communication from one bank to the other, and that the great river would soon be open to peaceful commerce.
All these illusions have since been dispelled, but they probably still cling to the idea of the great exhaustion of the Southern personnel
But this difficulty of recruiting the Southern
armies is not so great as is generally supposed.
As I have already stated, no Confederate soldier is given his discharge from the army, however badly he may be wounded; but he is employed at such labor in the public service as he may be capable of performing, and his place in the ranks is taken by a sound man hitherto exempted.
The slightly wounded are cured as quickly as possible, and are sent back at once to their regiments.
The women take care of this
. The number actually killed, or who die of their wounds, are the only total losses to the State
, and these form but a small proportion of the enormous butcher's bills which seem at first so very appalling.
I myself remember, with General Polk
's corps, a fine-looking man who had had both his hands blown off at the wrists by unskilful artillery-practice in one of the early battles.
A currycomb and brush were fitted into his stumps, and he was engaged in grooming artillery-horses with considerable skill.
This man was called an hostler; and, as the war drags on, the number of these handless hostlers will increase.
degrees the clerks at the offices, the orderlies, the railway and post-office officials, and the stage-drivers, will be composed of maimed and mutilated soldiers.
The number of exempted persons all over the South
is still very large, and they can easily be exchanged for worn veterans.
Besides this fund to draw upon, a calculation is made of the number of boys who arrive each year at the fighting age. These are all “panting for the rifle,” but have been latterly wisely forbidden the ranks until they are fit to undergo the hardships of a military life.
By these means, it is the opinion of the Confederates
that they can keep their armies recruited up to their present strength for several years; and, if the worst comes to the worst, they can always fall back upon their negroes as the last resort; but I do not think they contemplate such a necessity as likely to arise for a considerable time.
With respect to the supply of arms, cannon, powder, and military stores, the Confederates
are under no alarm whatever.
furnishes more than sufficient gunpowder; Atlanta
, copper caps, &c. The Tredegar works at Richmond
, and other foundries, cast more cannon than is wanted; and the Federal
generals have always hitherto proved themselves the most indefatigable purveyors of artillery to the Confederate Government, for even in those actions which they claim as drawn battles or as victories,
such as Corinth
, and Gettysburg
, they have never failed to make over cannon to the Southerners without exacting any in return.
My Northern friends on board the China
spoke much and earnestly about the determination of the North
to crush out the Rebellion
at any sacrifice.
But they did not show any disposition to fight themselves
in this cause, although many of them would have made most eligible recruits; and if they had been Southerners, their female relations would have made them enter the army whether their inclinations led them that way or not.
I do not mention this difference of spirit by way of making any odious comparisons between North and South in this respect, because I feel sure that these Northern gentlemen would emulate the example of their enemy if they could foresee any danger of a Southern Butler
exercising his infamous sway over Philadelphia
, or of a Confederate Milroy
ruling with intolerable despotism in Boston
, by withholding the necessaries of life from helpless women with one hand, whilst tendering them with the other a hated and absurd oath of allegiance to a detested Government.
But the mass of respectable Northerners, though they may be willing to pay, do not very naturally feel themselves called upon to give their blood in a war of aggression, ambition, and conquest.
For this war is essentially a war of conquest.
If ever a nation
did wage such a war, the North
is now engaged, with a determination worthy of a more hopeful cause, in endeavoring to conquer the South
; but the more I think of all that I have seen in the Confederate States
of the devotion of the whole population, the more I feel inclined to say with General Polk
-“How, can you subjugate such a people as this?”
and even supposing that their extermination were a feasible plan, as some Northerners have suggested, I never can believe that in the nineteenth century the civilized world will be condemned to witness the destruction of such a gallant race.