previous next

Doc. 159.-address of Jefferson Davis.

Executive office, Richmond, April 10, 1866.
In compliance with the request of Congress, [517] contained in the resolutions passed on the fourth day of the present month, I invoke your attention to the present condition and future prospects of our country, and to the duties which patriotism imposes on us all (luring this great struggle for our homes and our liberties. These resolutions are in the following language:

[Here follow the resolutions passed by the confederate Congress, requesting Mr. Davis to issue an address.]

Fully concurring in the views thus expressed by Congress, I confidently appeal to your love of country for aid in carrying into effect the recommendations of your Senators and Representatives.

We have reached the close of the second year of the war, and may point with just pride to the history of our young Confederacy. Alone, unaided, we have met and overthrown the most for-midable combinations of naval and military armaments that the lust of conquest ever gathered together for the conquest of a free people. We began this struggle without a single gun afloat, while the resources of our enemy enabled them to gather fleets which, according to their official list, published in August last, consisted of four hundred and thirty-seven vessels, measuring eight hundred and forty thousand and eighty-six tons, and carrying three thousand and twenty-six guns; yet we have captured, sunk, or destroyed a number of these vessels, including two large frigates and one steam sloop-of-war, while four of their captured steam-gunboats are now in our possession, adding to the strength of our little navy, which is rapidly gaining in numbers and efficiency.

To oppose invading forces composed of levies which have already exceeded thirteen hundred thousand men, we had no resources but the unconquerable valor of a people determined to be free ; and we were so destitute of military supplies that tens of thousands of our citizens were reluctantly refused admission into the service from our inability to furnish them arms, while for many months the continuation of some of our strongholds owed their safety chiefly to a careful concealment of the fact that we were without a supply of powder for our cannon.

Your devotion and patriotism have triumphed over all these obstacles, and called into existence the munitions of war, the clothing and the subsistence, which have enabled our soldiers to illustrate their valor on numerous battle-fields, and to inflict crushing defeats on successive armies, each of which our arrogant foe fondly imagined to be invincible.

The contrast between our past and present condition is well calculated to inspire full confidence in the triumph of our arms. At no previous period of the war have our forces been so numerous, so well organized, and so thoroughly disciplined, armed, and equipped as at present. The season of high-water, on which our enemies relied to enable their fleets of gunboats to penetrate into our country and devastate our homes, is fast passing away; yet our strongholds on the Mississippi still bid defiance to the foe, and months of costly preparation for their reduction have been spent in vain. Disaster has been the result of their every effort to turn or storm Vicksburgh and Port Hudson, as well as every attack on our batteries on the Red River, the Tallahatchie, and other navigable streams. Within a few weeks the falling waters and the increasing heats of summer will complete their discomfiture, and compel their baffled and defeated forces to the abandonment of expeditions on which was based their chief hope of success in effecting our subjugation.

We must not forget, however, that the war is not yet ended, and that we are still confronted by powerful armies and threatened by numerous fleets, and that the Government that controls, those fleets and armies is driven to the most desperate efforts to effect the unholy purposes in which it has thus far been defeated. It will use its utmost energy to avert this impending doom, so fully merited by the atrocities it has committed, the savage barbarities which it has encouraged, and the crowning attempt to excite a servile population to the massacre of our wives, our daughters and our helpless children.

With such a contest before us, there is but one danger which the government of your choice regards with apprehension; and to avert this danger it appeals to the never-failing patriotism and spirit which you have exhibited since the beginning of the war.

The very unfavorable season, the protracted droughts of last year, reduced the harvests on which we depend far below an average yield, and the deficiency was, unfortunately, still more marked in the northern part of our Confederacy, where supplies were specially needed for the army. If, through a confidence in an early peace, which may prove delusive, our fields should now be devoted to the production of cotton and tobacco, instead of grain and live stock, land other articles necessary for the subsistence of the people and army, the consequences may prove serious, if not disastrous, especially should this present season prove as unfavorable as the last. Your country, therefore, appeals to you to lay aside all thought of gain, and to devote yourselves to securing your liberties, without which these gains would be valueless.

It is true that the wheat harvest in the more Southern States, which will be gathered next month, promises an abundant yield ; but even if this promise be fulfilled, the difficulties of transportation, enhanced as it has been by an unusually rainy winter, will cause embarrassments in military operations, and sufferings among the people, should the crops in the middle and northern portions of the Confederacy prove deficient. But no uneasiness may be felt in regard to a mere supply of bread for men. It is for the large amount of corn and forage required in the raising of live stock, and the supplies of the animals used for military operations, too bulky for distant transportation; and in them the deficiency of the last harvest was mostly felt. Let your fields be [518] devoted exclusively to the production of corn, oats, beans, peas, potatoes, and other food for man and beast. Let corn be sowed broadcast, for fodder, in immediate proximity to railroads, rivers, and canals; and let all your efforts be directed to the prompt supply of these articles in the districts where our armies are operating. You will thus add greatly to their efficiency, and furnish the means without which it is impracticable to make those prompt and active movements which have hitherto stricken terror into our enemies, and secured our most brilliant triumphs.

Having thus placed before you, my countrymen, the reasons for the call made on you for aid in supplying the wants of the coming year, I add a few words of appeal in behalf of the brave soldiers now confronting your enemies, and to whom your government is unable to furnish all the comforts they so richly merit. The supply of meal for the army is deficient. This deficiency is only temporary, for measures have been adopted which will, it is believed, soon enable us to restore the full rations; but that ration is now reduced at times to one half the usual quantity in some of our armies. It is known that the supply of meat throughout the country is sufficient for the support of all; but the distances are so great, the condition of the roads has been so bad during the five months of winter weather through which we have just passed, and the attempt of grovelling speculators to forestall the market and make money out of the lifeblood of our defenders, have so much influenced the withdrawal from sale of the surplus in the hands of the producers, that the government has been unable to gather full supplies.

The Secretary of War has prepared a plan, which is appended to this address, by the aid of which, or some similar means to be adopted by yourselves, you can assist the officers of the government in the purchase of the corn, the bacon, the pork, and the beef known to exist in large quantities in different parts of the country. Even if the surplus be less than believed, is it not a bitter and humiliating reflection that those who remain at home, secure from hardship, and protected from danger, should be in the enjoyment of abundance, and that their slaves also should have a full supply of food, while their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers, are stinted in the rations on which their health and efficiency depend?

Entertaining no fear that you will either misconstrue the motives of this address, or fail to respond to the call of patriotism, I have placed the facts fully and frankly before you. Let us all unite in the performance of our duty, each in his sphere, and with concerted, persistent, and well-directed effort, there seems little reason to doubt that, under the blessings of Him to whom we look for guidance, and who has been to us our shield and strength, we shall maintain the sovereignty and independence of the confederate States, and transmit to our posterity the heritage bequeathed to us by our fathers.

Plan suggested by the rebel Secretary of war.

1. Let the people in each county, parish, or ward, select at a public meeting, as early as convenient, a committee of three or more discreet citizens, charged with the duties hereinafter mentioned.

2. Let it be the duty of this committee to ascertain from each citizen in the county or parish what amount of surplus corn and meat, whether bacon, pork, or beef, he can spare for the use of the army, after reserving a supply for his family and those dependent on him for food.

Let this committee fix a price which is deemed by them a just compensation for the articles furnished, and inform the citizens what this price is, so that each may know, before delivery, what price is to be paid for the articles furnished.

Let this committee make arrangements for the transportation of the supplies to some convenient depot, after consultation with the officer who is to receive them.

Let the committee make delivery of the supplies on receiving payment of the price, and assume the duty of paying it over to the citizens who have furnished the supplies.

3. Where the duty of the committee is performed in any town or city at which there may be a quartermaster or commissary, no further duty need be required of them than to deliver to the officer a list of the names of the citizens and of the supplies which each is ready to furnish, and the price fixed; whereupon the officer will himself gather the supplies and make payment.

4. Where the supplies are furnished in the country, the cost of transportation to the depot will be paid by the government, in addition to the price fixed by the committee.

5. As this appeal is made to the people for the benefit of our brave defenders now in the army, the department relies with confidence on the patriotism of the people, that no more than just compensation would be fixed by the committees, nor accepted by those whose chief motive will be to aid their country, and not to make undue gains out of the needs of our noble soldiers.

James A. Seddon, Secretary of War.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jefferson Davis (3)
James A. Seddon (1)
Doc (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 10th, 1866 AD (1)
August (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: