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[316] with its enclosure, in reference to the women, children, and others, whom you have seen proper to expel from their homes in the city of Atlanta. Had you seen proper to let the matter rest there, I would gladly have allowed your letter to close this correspondence, and without your expressing it in words, would have been willing to believe that while “the interest of the United States,” in your opinion, compelled you to an act of barbarous cruelty, you regretted the necessity, and we would have dropped the subject. But you have chosen to indulge in statements which I feel compelled to notice, at least so far as to signify my dissent, and not allow silence in regard to them to be construed as acquiescence. I see nothing in your communication, which induces me to modify the language of condemnation with which I characterized your order. It but strengthens me in the opinion that it stands “pre-eminent in the dark history of war, for studied and ingenious cruelty.” Your original order was stripped of all pretence; you announced the edict for the sole reason that it was “to the interest of the United States.” This alone, you offered to us and the civilized world as an all-sufficient reason for disregarding the laws of God and man. You say that “General Johnston himself, very wisely and properly removed the families all the way from Dalton down.” It is due to the gallant soldier and gentleman to say that no act of his distinguished career gives the least color to your unfounded aspersion upon his conduct. He depopulated no villages, nor towns, nor cities, either friendly or hostile. He offered and extended friendly aid to his unfortunate fellow-citizons, who desired to flee from your fraternal embrace. You are unfortunate in your attempt to find a justification for this act of cruelty, either in the defence of Jonesboroa by General Hardee, or of Atlanta by myself. General Hardee defended his position in front of Jonesboroa at the expense of injury to the houses, an ordinary, proper, and justifiable act of war. I defended Atlanta at the same risk and cost. If there was any fault in either case, it was your own, in not giving notice, especially in the case of Atlanta, of your purpose to shell the town, which is usual in war among civilized nations. No inhabitant of either town was expelled from his home and fireside by either General Hardee or myself, and therefore your recent order can find no support from the conduct of either of us. I feel no other emotion than pain in reading that portion of your letter which attempts to justify your shelling of Atlanta without notice, under the pretence that I defended Atlanta upon a line so close to town that every cannon-shot, and many musket-balls from your line of investment, that overshot their mark, went into the habitations of women and children. I made no complaint of your firing into Atlanta in any way you thought proper. I make none now, but there are a hundred thousand living witnesses that you fired into the habitations of women and children for weeks, firing far above and miles beyond my lines of defence. I have too good an opinion, founded both upon observation and experience, of the skill of your artillerists, to credit the assertion, that they, for several weeks, unintentionally fired too high for my modest field-works, and slaughtered women and children by accident and want of skill.

The residue of your letter is rather discursive. It opens a wide field for the discussion of questions which I do not feel are committed to me. I am only a General of one of the armies of the Confederate States, charged with military operations in the field, under the direction of my superior officers, and I am not called upon to discuss with you the cause of the present war, or the political questions which led to or resulted from it. These grave and important questions have been committed to far abler hands than mine, and I shall only refer to them so far as to repel any unjust conclusion which might be drawn from my silence. You charge my country with “daring and badgering you to battle.” The truth is, we sent commissioners to you, respectfully offering a peaceful separation, before the first gun was fired on either side. You say we insulted your flag. The truth is we fired upon it and those who fought under it when you came to our doors upon the mission of subjugation. You say we seized upon your forts and arsenals, and made prisoners of the garrisons sent to protect us against negroes and Indians. The truth is, we expelled by force of arms insolent intruders, and took possession of our own forts and arsenals, to resist your claim to dominion over masters, slaves and Indians, all of whom are to this day, with unanimity unexampled in the history of the world, warring against your attempts to become their masters. You say that we tried to force Missouri and Kentucky into rebellion in spite of themselves. The truth is, my Government, from the beginning of this struggle to this hour, has again and again offered, before the whole world, to leave it to the unbiassed will of those States, and all others, to determine for themselves whether they will cast their destiny with your Government or ours; and your Government has resisted this fundamental principle of free institutions with the bayonet, and labors daily by force and fraud, to fasten its hateful tyranny upon the unfortunate freemen of these States. You say we falsified the vote of Louisiana. The truth is, Louisiana not only separated herself from your Government by nearly a unanimous vote of her people, but has vindicated the act upon every battle-field from Gettysburg to the Sabine, and has exhibited an heroic devotion to her decision which challenges the admiration and respect of every man capable of feeling sympathy for the oppressed, or admiration for heroic valor. You say that we turned loose pirates to plunder your unarmed ships. The truth is, when you robbed us of our part of the navy, we built and bought a few vessels, hoisted the flag of our country, and swept the seas in

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