to hundreds a day; by the absentees from all the other rebel commands; by the frantic but futile efforts of Davis
to enforce his conscription laws.
He repeated what he had often said before—that the Confederacy
was a hollow shell, which Sherman
was about to penetrate; that old men and boys were pressed into the rebel ranks; that the cradle and the grave had been robbed, to repair the losses in the Wilderness
and the Western
Hitherto, also, the slaves had been detained at home, thus allowing the entire white population of the South
to be put into the field; but now there was talk on every hand of arming the blacks.
If this were done, there would be absolutely no men left for the ordinary labor of life, and one enormous advantage which the rebels had until now possessed, would be destroyed.
Besides, what security could there be that the slaves would fight for slavery?
To listen to this talk from one who knew so absolutely the truth of what he said, awoke new faith.
His hearers began to breathe his spirit, to share his confidence.
They saw now the method of his strategy, the significance of his battles.
They understood his persistent advance in the Wilderness
; they appreciated his object in detaining Lee
; and though many went away marvelling at what he said about Thomas
, and Schofield
, and Sheridan
, and most of all Sherman
, others left his presence saying to themselves: ‘At last we have found the man able to end the war.’1