Proclamation — to the people of Tennessee.
Executive Department, February 19, 1862.The fall of Fort Donelson, so bravely and so gloriously defended, and accomplished only by vastly superior numbers, opened the approaches to your State, which is now to become the grand theatre wherein a brave people will show to the world, by their heroism and suffering, that they are worthy to be, what they have solemnly declared themselves to be, freemen. Tennesseeans, the soil of your State is polluted with the footstep of the invader. Your brethren of the advance guard have fallen — nobly yielding life in the endeavor to secure for you and your children the priceless inheritance of freedom. The tyrant and the usurper marches his hosts upon your homes. They come flushed with temporary success and confident in their numbers, yet relying upon your tame submission. The hour is full of trial and danger, yet it is such, in the providence of God, as will test our manhood and our spirit. Let us, as one man, rally to meet the responsibilities thus cast upon us to repel the invader and maintain the assertion of our independence. As Governor of your State, and Commander-in-Chief of. its army, I call upon every able-bodied man of the State, without regard to age, to enlist in its service. I command him who can obtain a weapon, to march with our armies. I ask him who can repair or forge an arm, to make it ready at once for the soldier. I call upon every citizen to open his purse and his storehouses of provisions to the brave defenders of our soil. I bid the old and the young, wherever they may be, to stand as pickets to our struggling armies. To our soldiers, the gallant volunteers who are already enlisted in the defence of our cause, I appeal. Your discipline, your skill, and your courage, constitute the hope, the pride, and the reliance of your State. Amid the thickening perils that now environ us, undismayed and undaunted, re-volunteer, and from the ashes of our reverses the fire of faith in the liberty for which we strive will be rekindled. You have done well and nobly, but the work is not yet accomplished. The enemy still flaunts his banner in your face; his foot is upon your native soil; the echo of his drum is heard in your mountains and valleys; hideous desolation will soon mark his felon track, unless he is repelled. To you who are armed, and have looked death in the face, who have been tried and are the “Old guard,” the State appeals to uphold her standard. Encircle that standard with your valor and your heroism, and abide the fortunes of war so long as an enemy of your State shall dare confront you. The enemy relies upon your forfeiture to reenlist, and makes sure of an easy victory in your want of endurance. Disappoint him! To those who have not enlisted for the war, I appeal. Go, cheer your brethren already there. Your native land now calls upon you; you have only waited until you were needed. The confederate government calls upon me to raise thirty-two regiments. You will be armed. Come, then, it is for your independence, your homes, your wives, and your children, Tennesseeans, you are to fight. Who will, who can, remain idly at home? Will you stand still and let others pour out their blood for your safety? Patriotism and manhood would alike cry out against you. Let not a day pass until you are enrolled. Let the volunteer in the field reenlist. Let him who can, volunteer for the war. Let those of whom imperative obligations demand a shorter term of service, muster as militia-men. Tennesseeans! you have a name in history; you have a traditional renown; shall these be forfeited in the day of your country's trial? Shall the black banner of subjugation wave in triumph over your altars and your homes? Shall there breathe between you and your God an earthly master, before whom your proud spirit shall quail, and your knees be made to tremble? By the memory of our glorious dead — by the sacred names of our wives and children — by our own faith and our own manhood, no! Forbid it, sons of Tennessee; forbid it, men of the plains and of the mountains. I invoke you now to follow me; I am of the army of Tennessee, determined upon the field to stake the honor and the name of that army of which you have made me commander-in-chief. It is there that I will meet with you whatever may threaten or imperil the fair fame of either. In view of the exposed condition of your capital, and by authority of a resolution adopted by the General Assembly, I have called the members of the Legislature together at this city. It was a duty I conceived I owed you to remove, whilst it could be done in perfect safety, the archives of the State. This is not a fit occasion to inquire how your capital became so exposed. A series of reverses, not looked for, made the way to Nashville comparatively easy in the enemy. Temporarily and until our armies have made a stand, the officers of state will be located in Memphis. Leaving the officers of state to the immediate discharge of their duties, I repair to the field, and again invoke you to follow me to the battle wherein the fortunes of all are to be lost or won. Orders to the militia will be issued with this proclamation, designating the rendezvous, and giving such other directions as may be necessary and proper. I am pleased to accompany this proclamation with the assurance that active aid and heavy support will be given you by the confederate government.