exempt from enrolment now, might, on becoming subject to conscription, be turned over by the State to the confederate authorities. But never let it be said that there is a conflict between the States and the confederate government, by which a blow may be inflicted on the common cause. If such a page is to be written on the history of any State, I hope that you, my friends, will say that that State shall not be Mississippi. Let me repeat that there is much that the reserved corps can do. They can build bridges, construct fortifications, act as a sort of police to preserve order and promote the industrial interests of the State and to keep the negroes under control. Being of the people among whom they would act, those misunderstandings would thus be avoided which are apt to arise when strangers are employed in such a service. In this manner the capacity of the army for active operations against the enemy would be materially increased. I hope I shall not be considered intrusive for having entered into these details. The measures I have recommended are placed before you only in the form of suggestions, and, by you, I know I shall not be misinterpreted. In considering the manner in which the war has been conducted by the enemy, nothing arrests the attention more than the magnitude of the preparations made for our subjugation. Immense navies have been constructed, vast armies have been accumulated, for the purpose of crushing out the rebellion. It has been impossible to meet them in equal numbers; nor have we required it. We have often whipped them three to one, and in the eventful battle of Antietam Lee whipped them four to one. But do not understand me as saying that this will always be the case. When the troops of the enemy become disciplined, and accustomed to the obedience of the camp, they will necessarily approach more nearly to an equality with our own men. We have always whipped them, in spite of disparity of numbers; and on any fair field, fighting as man to man, and relying only on those natural qualities with which men are endowed, we should not fear to meet them in the proportion of one to two. But troops must be disciplined in order to develop their efficiency, and in order to keep them at their posts. Above all, to assure this result, we need the support of public opinion. We want public opinion to frown down those who come from the army with sad tales of disaster and prophecies of evil, and who skulk from the duties they owe their country. We rely on the women of the land to turn back these deserters from the ranks. I thank the Governor for asking the Legislature to make the people of the State tributary to this service. In addition to this, it is necessary to fill up those regiments which have for so long a time been serving in the field. They have stood before the foe on many hard-fought fields, and have proven their courage and devotion on all. They have won the admiration of the army and of the country. And here I to-day repeat a compliment I have heard which, although it seems to partake of levity, appears an illustration of the esteem in which Missippians are held. It happened that several persons were conversing of a certain battle, and one of them remarked that the Mississippians did not run. “Oh! No!” said another, “Mississippians never run.” But those who have passed through thirteen pitched battles are not unscathed. Their ranks are thinned, and they look back to Mississippi for aid to augment their diminished numbers. They look back expecting their brothers to fly to their rescue; but it sometimes seems as if the long-anticipated relief would never come. A brigade which may consist of only one thousand two hundred is expected to do the work of four thousand. Humanity demands that these depleted regiments be filled up. A mere skeleton cannot reasonably be expected to perform the labor of a body with all its flesh and muscle on it. You may have many who might assist in revivifying your reduced regiments — enough to fill up the ranks if they would only consent to throw off the shackles of private interest, and devote themselves to the noblest cause in which a man can be engaged. You have now in the field old men and gentle boys who have braved all the terrors and the dangers of war. I remember an instance of one of these, a brave and gallant youth, who, I was told, was but sixteen years of age. In one of those bloody battles by which the soil of Virginia has been consecrated to liberty, he was twice wounded, and each time bound up the wound with his own hands, while refusing to leave the field. A third time he was struck, and the lifeblood flowed in a crimson stream from his breast. His brother came to him to minister to his wants, but the noble boy said: “Brother, you cannot do me any good now; go where you can do the Federals most harm.” Even then, while lying on the ground, his young life fast ebbing away, he cocked his rifle, and aimed it to take one last shot at the enemy. And so he died, a hero and a martyr. This was one of the boys whose name sheds glory on Mississippi, and who, looking back from their distant camps, where they stand prepared to fight your battles and to turn back the tide of Federal invasion, ask you now to send them aid in the struggle — to send them men to stand by them in the day of trial, on the right hand and on the left. When I came to Mississippi I was uncertain in which direction the enemy intended to come, or what point they intended to attack. It had been stated, indeed, in their public prints, that they would move down upon Mississippi from the North, with the object of taking Vicksburgh in the rear, while their navy would attack that place in front. Such was the programme which had been proclaimed for the invasion and subjugation of your State. But when I went to Grenada, I found that the enemy had retired from our front, and that nothing was to be seen of them but their backs. It is probable that they have abandoned that line, with the intention of reenforcing the heavy column now descending the river. Vicksburgh and Port Hudson are the real points of attack. Every effort will be made to capture those places with the object of forcing the navigation of
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Rebel reports and Narratives.
Doc . 91 .- General Sherman 's expedition.
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