The Historical Register on our Papers.
The following notice of our Papers
appears in the October number of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register
Southern Historical Papers.
Richmond, Va.: Rev. J. William Jones, D. D., Secretary of the Southern Historical Society.
For the compliments contained in the above we make our cordial acknowledgments.
That a historical magazine, which is just completing its thirty-second volume, and which has won so wide a reputation for ability, should deem our new enterprise of such value “that no library, public or private, that pretends to historical fulness, can afford to be without” our Papers
, is, of course, very gratifying to us. But in reference to the criticisms, we have a word of reply.
We are glad that our critic is. constrained to admit that Major Walthall
“makes sad work of Wilson
's account” of the capture of
, but we respectfully submit that if he will read the paper more carefully, he will find that he does not
“admit that the ex-President
was captured on his way to the spring with women with a pail, and that he had a cloak thrown over him probably for disguise.”
On the contrary, he shows beyond all cavil that Mr. Davis
wore no article of woman's attire, and that the “petticoat story,” so industriously circulated and made the subject of phographs and cuts for illustrated papers, was a pure fabrication, palmed off for the purpose of belittleing as gallant a gentleman as ever drew sword in defence of the right.
Our critic thinks our discussion of the treatment of prisoners at Andersonville
“not so candidly handled.”
Well, we wish he would point out our want of candor and meet our statement of facts.
And if he will do so, we hereby offer to publish in full what he may write, provided he will publish our reply in the Historical Register
. But he will pardon us for saying that, in his very brief notice of our discussion of this question, he is guilty of the want of candor which he charges against us. We freely admitted that there were
probably cases of individual cruelty to prisoners in our hands, but we showed that the laws of the Confederacy
, the orders of our authorities, and the whole spirit of our people were opposed to the ill treatment of prisoners in any respect.
We gave detailed proofs to show that the mortality of prisoners at Andersonville
was from causes entirely beyond the control of our Government, and we especially proved that the charge of cruelty to prisoners made against President Davis
was so void of a shadow of evidence that even Holt
and his band of trained perjurers shrunk from going into a trial of the charge.
We proved that the Confederacy
made every effort to mitigate the sufferings of Federal prisoners, not only by offering, again and again, to carry out the cartel for the exchange of prisoners, but by proposing to allow each side to send their own surgeons and supplies to their prisoners — by offering to buy medicines, hospital stores, &c., for the exclusive use of Federal prisoners, paying for them in gold, cotton or tobacco — and by offering at last, when all other propositions had been refused, to send back without equivalent fifteen thousand of the prisoners we held
On the other hand, we gave the most abundant proofs that the Federal
authorities were guilty of every cruelty which they charged against us. We gave the figures to show that the monthly deathroll of Confederates at Elmira
ranged as high as four per cent
. of the whole number of prisoners, while at Andersonville
it was less than
three per cent
. for the same period.
And we gave the official figures of Secretary Stanton
and Surgeon-General Barnes
to prove that, taking all of the prisons into the account, more than three per cent. more Confederates died in Federal prisons than Federal prisoners in Confederate prisons
. But as our climax we showed that the sufferings on both sides were due to the failure to carry out the terms of the cartel for the exchange of prisoners, and that for this the Federal authorities alone (especially Stanton and Grant) were responsible
. Now, it would be more “candid” to meet fairly our argument on this question than to give the garbled statement of it contained in the above notice.
But we sincerely thank our critic for recommending our volumes to libraries at the North
, feeling assured as we do that if the present generation is not prepared to do us justice their children will.