The Richmond Examiner, of this date, has the following on the situation of affairs at the South:
We have a thousand proofs that the Southern people are not sufficiently alive to the necessity of exertion in the struggle they are involved in. Our very victories have brought injury upon the cause by teaching us to despise the public adversary. The immense magnitude of his preparations for our subjugation has excited no apprehension, and had little effect in rousing us to exertion. We repose quietly in the lap of security, when every faculty of our natures should be roused to action. The evidences of the prevailing sentiment are manifold. They are proved by the set of men who are elected to responsible positions. Men of palliatives, expedients and partial measures, control in our public councils. Men who could not perceive the coming storm that is now upon us, and who continued to cry peace, peace, when peace had ceased to be possible, are those who receive the largest support for controlling stations. The government is almost turned over already to these passive characters, who look upon confiscation as barbarous, aggression as impolitic, and vigorous war as a policy to be avoided, because tending to incense the enemy against us. The men who descried the cloud of war when it was no bigger than a man's hand, and who can now see no peace but as the result of vigorous measures, and renewed and repeated victories, are relegated to subordinate positions, and their views being a burning rebuke to the statesmen in position, they are laboring under the weight of implied censure. To win a fight by an aggressive movement is to incur a sort of obloquy; and to lose a battle in a brave push upon the foe is to provoke a chuckle of satisfaction, and the taunt, “I told you so.” Better to fight even at the risk of losing battles, than remain inactive to fill up inglorious graves. Better that government and people should be roused to duty by defeat, than that the army should go to sleep, the government doze and the people grow drowsy, in the very jaws of destruction. To fill our public councils with men of passive measures, who would administer war on Homoeopathic principles, who would whip the enemy by cowardice and sloth, is to paralyze the government and to enervate the people. The people are alive to the demands of the crisis, but if Congress frowns upon them, they grow tame and crouching. In the midst of revolution, no greater calamity can befall a people, than for their affairs to pass into the control of men who could not understand it in the beginning, and are incapable of appreciating the demands of the crisis as they arise. The French, in their revolution, had an easy way of getting rid of such characters — they chopped off their heads. They felt it necessary, as all subsequent opinion has acknowledged, to push their revolution through to a climax, at any cost, and, though often with tears and sorrow, they guillotined the public men who leaned back against the harness. The revolution succeeded, and owed its success solely to their excesses. They passed to the promised land through a red sea of blood. Old institutions, abuses and enormities were swept away, with every relic of opinion that upheld them. France became a tabula rasa, upon which a new destiny was to be written. All Europe moved against her more formidably than the Northern hordes are beleaguering our own country; but such was the fiery earnestness of her leaders and her people, that the gathering hosts of invasion were scattered to the four winds. At last, it must be confessed, that the subjugation of a nation is not to be defeated so much by armies and guns, as by the fierce resolution of its rulers and people. An unconquerable will and fierce combative purpose, are more effective than invincible arms. Does such a fiery  purpose blaze in our government, imparting its hot flame to the hearts of our people? There are two things needful for the early extinction of this war. We must first banish from the country every stranger in it who cannot give a satisfactory account of his purposes and objects here. This riddance of spies is a measure of importance, but comparatively of minor importance. The next thing requisite is for the whole community to throw themselves heart and soul into the war, and practise all the self-denial that the crisis demands. Why should the country be taxed with the support of the hundreds of hack teams employed in Richmond, when, if each gentleman would consent to walk a few squares, horses enough for a dozen or two batteries, well broken and well conditioned, with a complement of teamsters, could be thus secured to the army? This is but a single instance to show what might be accomplished by a general spirit of patriotic self-denial. What a vast system of expenditure, now exhausted upon mere luxuries, might be turned to advantage in the war, if the pampered classes of society would but consent to a temporary sacrifice of useless pleasures! He who will take the pains to run through the whole catalogue of items which could thus be turned to valuable account in the war, will be astonished at the extent and value of latent resources which the country affords. The most efficient class to bring out the men and resources of the country in this war have been its women. In the great struggles of nations, like that in which we are engaged, they should have queens for their rulers; for it is woman alone who is proof against the persuasions of time-servers and the sin of backsliding. There has been but one Lot's wife in all the tide of time.
The steamship Constitution, with the Bay State regiment, of Massachusetts, the Twelfth regiment Maine volunteers, and other troops, sailed from Fortress Monroe, Va., for Ship Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, this forenoon.--N. Y. Evening Post, February 5.
At Richmond, Va., J. P. Benjamin, rebel Secretary of War, issued the following order: Bands of speculators have combined to monopolize all the saltpetre to be found in the country, and thus force from the government exorbitant prices for an article indispensable to the national defence. The department has hitherto paid prices equal to four times the usual peace rates in order to avoid recourse to impressment, if possible. This policy has only served to embolden the speculators to fresh exactions. It is now ordered, that all military commanders in the Confederate States, impress all saltpetre now or hereafter to be found within their districts, except such as is in the hands of the original manufacturers, or of government agents and contractors, paying therefor forty cents per pound, and no more. The price fixed is the lightest rate at which contracts have been made, and leaves very large profits to the manufacturers.
Henry M. Naglee was confirmed to-day as Brigadier-General of volunteers, by a unanimous vote of the United States Senate. Mr. Naglee is a native of Philadelphia, Pa., and has been for some time a resident of California. He is an experienced and capable officer, having graduated at the West-Point Military Academy.--Philadelphia Press, February 5.
In the Virginia House of Delegates the following debate took place on the subject of enrolling free negroes for the rebel army. The bill amending the Convention Act for the enrolment of free negroes was, on motion of Mr. Prince, taken up. Among the amendments in this bill, Mr. Prince called attention to the one allowing ten cents for each negro so enrolled to the sheriff or officer so enrolling them. He proposed to strike out this amendment, and insert in lieu of the proposed compensation that, if the said officers fail to comply with the requisition of this law, they be subjected to a penalty of not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars. As these officers were exempt from military duty, he said it was about as little as they could do to perform the service of enrolling the free negroes of their respective counties, as a part of their official duties. His amendment was adopted. Mr. Rives proposed that the amendment in the bill respecting the term of the enlistment of negroes, be amended to make the term ninety days, instead of a hundred and eighty. His reason for this was the fact that the families of many of the free negroes so enlisted, having no other means of support, would — as had been the case in his own county — suffer very much from want. Mr. Prince agreed to compromise with the gentleman on one hundred and twenty days. Mr. Anderson, of Botetourt, hoped that the amendment would not pass. One hundred and eighty days were only six months; and if white men could be drafted for two years, he saw no  reason why free negroes should be entitled to such charitable discrimination. Mr. Rives replied, that he made the proposition from no particular friendship to free negroes; if it were in his power, he would convert them all into slaves to-morrow. But it was simply to call the attention of the House to the fact that, in his own county, many severe cases of suffering had occurred among the families of free negroes from this cause, and he thought that possibly some alleviation might be brought about by the amendment proposed. The amendment was rejected, and the bill was then ordered to its engrossment.--Richmond Examiner.
This afternoon a skirmish occurred near the banks of the Occoquan, on the Potomac, Va. It was reported in the morning that a body of rebels was at Pohick Church. Captain Lowing, of the Third Michigan regiment, then on picket-duty in front of General Heintzelman's Division, took thirty-four men, under command of Lieutenant Brennan, from Company F, and forty-four under Lieutenant Bryan, from Company H, and went to meet them. Arriving at Pohick Church, no rebels were seen. The party, however, proceeded to the banks of the Occoquan, opposite the town of that name. Arriving there early in the afternoon, a few unarmed men were observed drilling. They gave the alarm, when a number of rebels came from the houses and fired on the National soldiers. A brisk skirmish took place. Four of the rebels were seen to fall, and were carried off by their comrades. No injury was sustained by the National party, except by one man, who was slightly bruised by a spent ball.--Baltimore American, February 6.