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Humanity in war — who are its proper objects?

The Lincoln Administration began this war upon the South with the declaration that it would listen to no terms but its unconditional surrender. Rebellion and treason were the crimes of which every man in the South had been guilty, and confiscation and the gallows would be the proper punishments.

The people of the North went beyond their Government in the ferocity of their spirit. --The declaration was openly made that ‘"Beauty and Booty"’ should be the rewards of their soldiers. Their papers declared that Virginians should be trampled under her foot, that her farms should be divided among the invaders, that her men should be driven from their homes, and only return to see want and suffering in the eyes of their wives, and their children in rags. The unparalleled atrocity of those menaces startled and appalled all civilized Europe, and the public press of the continent rebuked, with indignant emphasis, these brutal fulminations.

An immense army of the riff-raff of New York, the scum of Christendom, was organized for the purpose of carrying on this war in the spirit and manner set forth in the bloody programme. The penitentiaries were opened, and the jail birds and murderers marshalled into a legion for the work of pillage, rapine and massacre. The very women, when their husbands and lovers departed for the Southern war, invoked them each to bring back the head of a Southern rebel. A Southern gentleman traveling on the cars with a body of these ruffians, heard them openly declare that they intended to reduce every woman in Virginia to a fate worse than death before their return.

Their conduct, as far as possible, has been in conformity with their threats. Atrocities upon women, at which the blood runs cold, have been committed by these wretches in Alexandria, in Hampton, in Northwestern Virginia. Faithful Southern citizens of the latter section have been torn from their homes, tied hand and foot, and transported to the interior of Ohio. Private property has been destroyed in the most wanton manner; houses have been burned and slaves captured by the hundred; prisoners have been thrust into dungeons and fed on the coarsest food; sometimes beaten with cruel blows, and placed on trial for their lives, to be hung unless the fears of Lincoln for his own people in our hands prevents the execution of his threats. Even some of their men now in our hands can scarcely suppress the ferocity of their purpose, and declare their eagerness to try conclusions with us again if they could regain their liberty; and there are still wretches at large in this town who, doubtless, are devising means to accomplish that object, and are hovering in the neighborhood of the prisons to render all the aid and comfort in their power.

If it be said that the inhuman pregnancy of the war is only the brutum fulmen of the lower classes, we reply that all the facts of the case prove that with few exceptions it is the universal voice of the North. It has come from the press, from the bar, from the pulpit, and roars as furiously from the Merchants' Exchange as from the Five Points. With the exception of the glorious Vallandigham, Pierce, and some men of lesser note, not one voice has been raised against it; with the exception of one or two papers in New York, and a few in New Hampshire, no newspaper has resisted it. The vilest of the whole ruffian crew, Billy Wilson's murderers and pickpockets, have been eulogized by one of the most eminent ministers of New York, Rev. Dr. Tying; the clergy have been the bitterest and bloodiest denouncers of us; the Christian Associations have themselves led the way in ferocity and fury. For weeks we had in our possession a letter envelope of one of those saintly bodies, in which our President is represented as hanging from a gallows, guarded by a body of Zouaves under their officer, Ellsworth; those ‘"pet lambs,"’ who have been sent, with their leader, to a place where they receive the only kind of ‘"humanity"’ that such unparalleled miscreants deserve.

Notwithstanding all this, the Southern Government has acted with the most extraordinary humanity. Without parole, Rogers and Wright, who endeavored to burn up our Navy-Yard, at the hazard of multitudes of innocent lives, were released; so was Harney, the Missouri butcher; others have been liberated on parole probably to be violated on the first opportunity. The prisoners we have made have not been placed in dungeons, like our own unfortunate men, but in large, airy apartments, where they have probably fared better than they ever did before. We do not object to this humane treatment of prisoners; on the contrary, we would denounce any departure from it; but we submit, that beyond compliance with the ordinary customs of civilized warfare, it is high time that we make the enemy feel that he is dealing with a people who are capable of resenting and retaliating every cruel act and purpose of his ferocious nature with tenfold fierceness and vengeance.

Humanity is an admirable virtue, but our own people are its proper objects, and a spurious sensibility, which sometimes passes for humanity, and would treat with superfluous kindness the wretches who have come to devastate and defile every Southern household, is the most cruel inhumanity to our own people. We ought to know by this time that our enemy construes every act of forbearance into fear, and is emboldened by it to new excesses and The South would have been perfectly justified if, in such a war as this, it had resolved to take no prisoners, neither to give for ask quarter. It has acted with a generosity and clemency beyond all example; but these virtues ought not be permitted to do generate into weaknesses. We have now in our hands abundant hostages for the enemy's proper treatment of our prisoners, and we have in President Davis a man who, white humane and compassionate, will not forget that the first objects of humanity and compassion are his own people, and who will hold in close custody, as pledges for the past, present and future, every one of the invaders who falls into our hands.

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