This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 retribution in the end, would have blotted its career, and weakness would have stripped its fate of dignity. I dismiss, therefore, the unworthy criticism that he should have negotiated peace in February, 1865, when Hon. Francis P. Blair came informally to Richmond, and when, as the result of his mission, Messrs. Stephens, Hunter and Campbell met President Lincoln and Secretary Seward in conference at Hampton Roads. Reports have been circulated that at that time peace could have been secured upon a basis of a return to the Union, with payment of some sort to Southern owners for their emancipated slaves. There is no foundation for such belief. The idea which led to the conference was that of Mr. Blair—that the Confederate cause being hopeless, the Confederate leaders could be induced to wheel their columns into line with those of the Union army now thundering at their gates, and then march off to Mexico to assert the Monroe doctrine and expel Maximilian, the usurping emperor, from his throne. But when President Lincoln and Secretary Seward appeared no proposal of any kind was made but unconditional surrender. This was reported, and of course declined. Even had compensation for slaves been proposed, the Confederate soldiers would have repudiated such terms as conditions of surrender. True, they were in dire distress. With scarce a handful, Johnston could only harass Sherman in the South, and the men of Lee could see from their trenches the mighty swarms marshalling in their front. The starvation that clutched at their throats plunged its dagger to their hearts as they thought of loved ones famishing at home. But the brave men who still clung to their tattered standards knew naught of the art or practice of surrender. They thought of Valley Forge and saw beyond it Yorktown. Had not Washington thought of the mountains of West Augusta when driven from his strongholds? Why not they? Had not Jackson left the legacy, ‘What is life without honor? Dishonor is worse than death.’ They could not comprehend the idea of surrender, for were they not their fathers' sons?
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.