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[455] loud boastings which a few weeks since they so freely uttered, have been silenced by your unanimous reeenlistments for the war, and the stern and resolute daring of the South. Dissensions exist among them. Eager to possess the spoils of their corrupt and profligate government, they see each other nearly as much as they do us. The war is no longer popular. The rich are allowed to buy an exemption, and thus cast all the burden and risk upon the poor. The laboring classes have already revolted against the draft. To escape its odium, enormous bounties have been offered to volunteers; but all these expeditions have failed, and again a heavy draft has been ordered. The armies of the enemy are every day diminishing, and it is evident they cannot recruit them to the numbers with which they began the struggle. A large and growing party are for peace. A still larger party have discovered that the war has so far only served to entail upon themselves a despotism which tramples down every public and private right. They feel and acknowledge that they are the slaves of one whose character has made him odious to the world. Torn by party and personal strife, and conscious of the impotence of their scheme of conquest, the ranks of your enemies are already beginning to waver. One more resolute effort and the day is ours.

God will strengthen your arms in the hour of battle, and give blessings to a just cause. Independence and peace will be needed by your enemies, and you, the defenders of the commonwealth, may return to your homes to receive the welcome due the brave, and to enjoy those honors which will grow brighter as our years shall be prolonged.

And when your ears shall be no longer startled by the “clash of resounding arms,” and a happy, prosperous, and permanent peace shall succeed, returning from the fields of your fame, you will be greeted with tears of joy by the loved ones at home — the heroes of every circle — to receive the smiles of the fair, and become the theme of gratitude and praise around every hearthstone protected by your valor.

Then every heart shall rejoice in that quiet which your courage has secured. Not the quiet of deserted homes and desolated farms — of sacked cities and rifled churches — of villages in ashes and towns in ruins — but the quiet of smiling farms, when the blue smoke shall curl again above the ancestral trees, to welcome back the long-exiled refugee to his home. The quiet of thriving villages, when the old man on his crutch and the brave and war-worn veteran with his armless sleeve, shall tell of bloody battles and scenes of privation to smiling children around him. The quiet of prosperous cities, whose wharves shall whiten with an opulent commerce, whose shops shall hum with a busy industry, and whose spires point to that haven of rest which is far away. Then from a thousand happy hearts and happy homes shall arise thanksgiving and praise to the God of battles as of grace, while tears of gratitude will embalm the memories and bedew the graves of the brave men whose blood has been shed as a libation to liberty.

A. D. Dickinson, Chairman, A. J. Marshall, Andrew Hunter, Senate Committee, B. H. Shackleford, Chairman, R. W. Hunter, F. B. Deane, A. C. Cummings, R. H. Baker, House Committee. Adopted by Senate, March 5, 1864.
Shelton C. Davis, C. S. Adopted by House of Delegates, March 9, 1864.
Wm. F. Gordon, C. H. D.

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