previous next
[22] by blockade from all communication with foreign countries; when we consider that they were thus thrown upon their own resources to extemporize the means of supplying all these wants; when we consider the enormous odds against which they had to contend, not only in numbers, but in every other conceivable advantage, and when we then reflect upon the magnificent contest which they maintained for four years against overwhelming odds, it is nothing short of childish folly to deny that the leader in such a contest must have been a man of exceptional character and ability. The verdict of history which has already stamped the achievements of the South in that long and bloody war as amongst the most wonderful and heroic that were ever accomplished by any people, cannot fail to accord to Jefferson Davis, as their leader from first to last, his full share of the credit and glory which belonged to them. He may have made mistakes, and doubtless did, but the incomparable morale of the Confederate armies and people was largely inspired by the indomitable courage of Jefferson Davis, and by their confidence that, whatever might befall, he would stand by his guns to the very last, and would never yield to anything less than the absolute destruction of all power of further resistance.

That confidence was fully justified by the event. When ruin and defeat encompassed us on every side; when the army of Lee had been, not defeated, but destroyed; when the Confederate capitol had fallen and the government was compelled to flee for safety, the indomitable southern chieftain wars still defiant, and was still busy and intent on schemes to rally the remains of his shattered forces, and to renew and maintain the fight as long as there remained a shot in the locker. Had he escaped, the history of the Confederate war might not have closed without a final chapter, which, owing to his surprise and capture, remained unwritten.

The treatment of which Jefferson Davis was made the victim after his capture is a chapter which all good men would like to see blotted from the history of the Republic. Something is to be forgiven to the intensity of excitement and resentment which prevailed at that time. Let us cast the mantle of charitable silence over the indignities, humiliations and unnecessary cruelties which for many months were visited upon a sick, helpless and defenceless prisoner. The memory of them can serve no purpose, except to illustrate the heroic fortitude and undaunted spirit of their victim.

But there were other injuries far worse than any mere physical tortures, which justice demands should not be left unnoticed.

Creative Commons License
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.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jefferson Davis (3)
Robert Edward Lee (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: