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[131] you have met and borne the privations of camplife, the exactions of military discipline, and the rigors of a winter campaign. The rich results of your courage, patriotism and unfaltering virtue, are before you. Entrusted with the defence of this important frontier, you have driven back the immense army which the enemy had sent to invade our country, and to establish his dominion over our people by the wide-spread havoc of a war inaugurated without a shadow of constitutional right, and prosecuted in a spirit of ruthless vengeance. By your valor and firmness, you have kept him in check, until the nations of the earth have been forced to see us in our true character — not dismembered and rebellious communities, but an empire of confederate states, with a constitution safe in the affections of the people, institutions and laws in full and unobstructed operation, a population enjoying all the comforts of life, and a citizen soldiery who laugh to scorn the threat of subjugation.

Your country now summons you to a noble and a greater deed. The enemy has gathered up all his energies for a final conflict. His enormous masses threaten us on the west; his naval expeditions are assailing us upon our whole. southern coast; and upon the Potomac, within a few hours' march, he has a gigantic army, inflamed by lust and maddened by fanaticism. But the plains of Manassas are not forgotten, and he shrinks from meeting the disciplined heroes who hurled across the Potomac his grand army, routed and disgraced. He does not propose to attack this army so long as it holds its present position with undiminished numbers and unimpaired discipline; but, protected by his fortifications, he awaits the expiration of your term of service. He recollects that his own ignoble soldiery, when their term of service expired, “marched away from the scene of conflict to the sound of the enemy's cannon,” and he hopes that at that critical moment Southern men will consent to share with them this infamy. Expecting a large portion of our army to be soon disbanded, he hopes that his immense numbers will easily overpower your gallant comrades who will be left here, and thus remove the chief obstacle to his cherished scheme of Southern subjugation.

The Commanding General calls upon the twelvemonths men to stand by their brave comrades who have volunteered for the war, to re-volunteer at once, and thus show to the world that the patriots engaged in this struggle for independence will not swerve from the bloodiest path they may be called to tread. The enemies of your country, as well as her friends, are watching your action with deep, intense, tremulous interest. Such is your position that you can act no obscure part. Your decision, be it for honor or dishonor, will be written down in history. You cannot, you will not, draw back at this solemn crisis of our struggle, when all that is heroic in the land is engaged, and all that is precious hangs trembling in the balance.

Joseph E. Johnston, Major-General C. S.A.

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