Result of the levy en masse.
The volunteer movement, which was responded to with so much liberality by Richmond
, had reduced the working force engaged in every calling and branch of business to the most limited numbers.
The call for the body of the militia, would strip the business of the city of all the rest.
Nearly every storehouse would have to be closed.
Every workshop would be locked up. Every mill would cease to grind.
Every working machinist and every effective mechanic be called away from his useful and necessary occupation.
would be closed.
The notes of the people due them would go unpaid and protested, and universal bankruptcy ensue.
The notes of the Banks, the money of which the people have in their pock ets, might at any moment become worthless.
There would be no business and no currency.
The hotels and the restaurants would lose their supervisory force, and strangers would starve, or have to rob or steal their food.
The market men would be taken away, and the people have to make what shift they could for their food.
The newspapers would loose all their operating force, and the people of the interior be left in total ignorance as to what is going on, and become the prey to every idle rumor that sweeps over the land.
The condition of things in Richmond
would be repeated in every town and village of the North-side.
But the case of the cities and towns would be fortunate compared with that of the country.
It would be only material disaster that would fall upon the towns.
The calamity of the country would be moral and irreparable.
Every country mill would be stopped, and there would be a scarcity of bread.
Almost every overseer would be taken from the custody of his charge; and negroes would run riot, and plantations would go to ruin.
The crops which a bountiful Providence
has vouchsafed to a favored people would be lost by an act of improvidence, and what a benignant authority gives, an unbenignant one take away.
The women of the country, who have been the most active patriots in this whole movement of resistance to aggression, would be made to feel in their feeble and delicate persons, to what horrid risks and dangers war may subject their sex. Great neighborhoods, teeming with slaves by the thousand, would be stripped of every available gun and effective man and left with none but women, with here and there a feeble old man or beardless boy, to administer its affairs and to protect its safety.
We have looked through the experience of the country in past wars, and we have not been able to find a single instance of a levy of the militia of a great region of country en masse,
before the present one.
It has been done in the instance of individual towns in a state of siege or in danger of imminent assault.
In confined districts of country, embracing the extent of a single county, it has been done before the very presence of an enemy; but history does not furnish an example before the present one of the fourth part of a great Commonwealth and that a Commonwealth thickly populated with slaves, being called upon to drop all its industrial pursuits, to leave all its crops and fields unsecured, to remove all guards from its firesides and upon its slaves, and to march en masse
to the distant wars.
Whether this neglect in the past has been owing to a want of capacity in the Generals
of the country, or to a want of statesmanship in its rulers, boots not; the thing is unprecedented and unheard of. If this immense mass of ill-armed militia should drive away the enemy, it would be a God's blessing if on their return they should not find a worse desecration of household and field than that which they sought to avert by driving out the invader.
We have but one counsel for the people in this grave and most singular emergency and that is, to obey their rulers, trusting to their own sober second thought for the rectification of any errors they may have fallen into.
When the body of the militia shall have been enrolled, and when it shall be thus revealed, what countless harm, both to the peace interests and to the war interests of the country, would attend the indiscriminate marching of them off to distant fields; there will certainly be some expedient fallen upon of supplying with facility the wants of our armies without trenching upon the necessities of the great business interests of town and country.--Surely the capacity of our rulers is equal to the tack of supplying our want of material, so abundant are the demands of the war without destroying the industry of the country.