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[240] unwise legislation, and of unwise refusal to legislate, are now borne in noble silence by a noble soul.

Let me give you a single glimpse of the unwritten history of the war, and I give it the more willingly because it shows that self-denial was not confined to the men who bore arms.

The late Mr. Benjamin, at one time Secretary of War of the Confederate States, in a most interesting letter, gave me the following illustration of the destitution of the Confederacy in the beginning of 1862.

Mr. Benjamin was Secretary of War at the time of the loss of Roanoke Island.

The report of the officer in command of that post showed that its loss was due in a great measure to the supposed persistent disregard by the Secretary of his urgent requisitions for powder and other supplies.

Mr. Benjamin had directed General Huger to send powder from Norfolk to the garrison at Roanoke Island, and had been informed by Huger that compliance with that order would leave Norfolk without ammunition. The report of the commanding officer at Roanoke Island led to an investigation of the loss of the post by a committee of Congress, and I give you the result in the language of Mr. Benjamin:

I consulted the President,

he says, ‘whether it was best for the country that I should submit to unmerited censure or reveal to a congressional committee our poverty, and my utter inability to supply the requisitions of General Wise, and thus run the risk that the fact should become known to some of the spies of the enemy, of whose activity we were well assured. It was thought best for the public interest that I should submit to censure.’

It was a saying of General Lee that all the heroism of the country was not in the army, and I think the Secretary of War deserved a decoration.

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