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 graves as felons who had vainly attempted to destroy the Union, the sole sanctuary and safeguard of liberty to mankind, and were we to transmit to our posterity the tainted blood of unhung traitors and our children bearing the burden of names branded with ignominy and crime? Or were we to be considered honorable soldiers of a war illustrated by the greatest gallantry, the highest chivalry, the brightest genius that the English-speaking race have ever exhibited? Were we to be regarded by our contemporaries—the gallant soldiers of the successful side—as their equals in patriotism and purity of motive, and by succeeding generations as worthy of places beside the armies of the Union? These were not merely sentimental questions. They were pressing and vital ones, upon the answer to which our future welfare and happiness largely depended. As outcasts we would rapidly degenerate into the outlaws of the community, and would be thrust aside as unworthy of respect and debarred an equal opportunity of earning the support of ourselves and those dear to us. As respected citizens of the State and the Union we would live happily among our people, would receive proofs of their confidence and esteem, and leave to our children the priceless heritage of honored fame and name. To Marylanders these questions were more vital than to those who had their own State organizations to justify them. We had no defence except the law of war as defined by and practiced under the law of nations. And it was of overwhelming necessity that our position should be ascertained to be that of soldiers, and not of rebels and traitors. The question came home to me personally in a very pressing way. I was under indictment in the Federal and State courts for treason in committing acts of war in the Sharpsburg and Gettysburg campaigns. I knew perfectly well what the law was. The only doubt was as to how far the courts of the successful side would give the unsuccessful side the benefit of it. Rebellion is insurrection against lawful government, which is unlawful in itself, in which every one who assists, aids or abets it is equally guilty, and personally responsible to the law for his crime, and which has no legal consequences, and can have none, for it is against all law. After it is suppressed there only remain the criminal trial and the punishment. War is a status between nations, countries or parties. As soon as it occurs, it changes at once the relation of every person subject to either party; each one becomes bound to obey his own country, and ceases to be personally responsible for actions committed by command of its authority, civil or military. All the people on one side become
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