as the remnant of the Confederacy
This appeal to the vulgar eye was not without effect, but it was very absurd.
Lines drawn upon paper alarmed the multitude; it was sufficient for them to know that the enemy was at such and such points; they never reflected that a title of occupation was worthless, without garrisons or footholds, that it often depended upon the issue of a single field, and that one or two defeats might put the whole of the enemy's forces back upon the frontiers of the Confederacy
But the military condition of the Confederacy
must be studied in connection with the general decay of public spirit that had taken place in the country, and the impatience of the hardships of the war, when the people had no longer confidence in its ultimate results.
This impatience was manifested everywhere; it amounted to the feeling, that taking the war to be hopeless, the sooner it reached an adverse conclusion the better; that victories which merely amused the imagination and insured prolongation of the war, were rather to be deprecated than otherwise, and that to hurry the catastrophe would be mercy in the end. Unpopular as the administration of President Davis
was, evident as was its failure, there were not nerve and elasticity enough in the country for a new experiment.
The history of the last Confederate Congress is that of vacillating and bewildered attempts to reform and check the existing disorder and the evident tendency to ruin-weak, spasmodic action, showing the sense of necessity for effort, but the want of a certain plan and a sustained resolution.
In the last periods of the war, the demoralization of the Confederacy
was painfully apparent.
The popular resolution that had been equal to so long a contest, that had made so many proffers of devotion, that had given so many testimonies of sacrifice and endurance, had not perhaps inherently failed.
But it had greatly declined in view of Executive mismanagement, in the utter loss of confidence in the Richmond Administration
, and under the oppressive conviction that its sacrifices were wasted, its purposes thwarted, and its efforts brought to nought, by an incompetent government.
This official mismanagement not only impaired the popular effort, but by the unequal distribution of burdens incident to weak and irregular governments, even where such is not designed, incurred the charge of corrupt favour, and exasperated large portions of the community.
Rich and powerful citizens managed to escape the conscription — it was said in Richmond
that it was “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Camp Lee;” but the rigour of the law did not spare the poor and helpless, and the complaint was made in the Confederate Congress that even destitute cripples had been taken from their homes, and confined in the conscription camps, without reference to physical disability so conspicuous and pitiful.
It was not unusual to see at the railroad stations long lines of squalid men, with scraps of blankets in their hands, or small pine boxes of provisions, or whatever else they