Spirit of the army.
[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Army of the Peninsula, Feb. 13, 1862.
The dim glimmering camp fire did lend scarce sufficient light to illumine the columns of your learned contemporary — the Examiner
--yet I have seen enough to know that we have suffered a terrible (I call things by their right names) defeat at Roanoke
; and this, coupled with the disgraceful disaster at Somerset
, and the unimpeded march of our enemies into Tennessee
, does, we must be allowed to think, form something more than a three days wonder.
Patience we know at times wine battles, but talk not to men of patience when their homes are threatened with destruction.
The decreasing finances of the North
is all very well in its place; we are glad of it, but we haven't time to wait upon it now. Our recognition by England
is a fine thing, too, in its way. But I say out with this patient, craven, contemptible dependence upon anything but the strong determined irresistible resistance of our resolute soldiers, and let every man be a soldier.
If we have not the right leaders in the right places, displace those which are there and send commanders — not politicians in their places — men who know their responsibility to their country and are ready and willing to devote their entire unflagging energy to their task — patriots who take up the sword to defend their homes and not through personal ambition.
What care we for the personal misfortunes of any men. We are not fighting in the cause of this or that man. It is the common cause of the Confederate States
, and not of any particular individual.
The intelligent soldiers in the field begin to look around them in some doubt and apparent disquietude.
If we go not into this struggle with our whole soul, how can we expect to succeed?
Let there be the most perfect confidence between the citizens and their soldiers.
We want to hear of no despondency or lukewarmness at home.
The reverses we have met (and we regret it) have been severe, but we have hundreds of thousands of faithful hearts, true as the steel in their hands, who await with a savage joy the change of meeting their foes upon any terms — whose dearest wish is to spill out their blood upon the soil they will die to defend.
We want no more temporizing nor trifling.
Let no one hug the consoling idea to his breast that we can achieve our independence in kid gloves
Let it be the duty of every sensible and sincere editor to dispel this appalling delusion.
Let us hear no more of the gaieties and banquets in our Capitol
Disperse the thousand and one jewelled officers who are crowding the hotels of Richmond
, sporting their cheaply acquired honors to the gazes of the uninitiated.
Send them back to their commands, and make them stay there; and let it resound throughout the whole land that every man is at his post and doing his whole duty.
Then, and then only, may we hear the shout of ‘"victory"’ upon the breeze.
It is only under these circumstances that we have any right to success; and this is the only independence worth either our love or labor.
Extract of a letter from a prominent officer in the army.
‘"I don't know how it is with others; but the severer our reverses, the dearer the sacred cause of liberty is to me, and though the enemy may drive us not only from Nashville
, but from all our principal cities, still I will not despair.
I will stick to our flag as long as life lasts, and our people will worry the devils till they are exhausted.
What! unite with them again, or be their Provinces!
Sink everything first!
I would rather, in that extremity, that our country should become the province of any kingdom on the face of the globe.
Let our young men volunteer promptly, and we will have an army that will nobly do the work and set our country tree."’
I noticed in your issue of Saturday, Feb. 15th, some remarks from one of the members of the Virginia Legislature, upon the subject of the reduction of the pay of officers engaged in this war, and the advance of the pay of privates.
It is true the necessities of many of the latter, in our ranks require an increase of pay, still it should remain as it is, (for the sake of our glorious cause,) unless that of the officers be reduced.
We have patriotism enough, I trust, to make us willing to serve in our Southern cause, with our present pay, or even less.
Still such exertions in behalf of privates deserve our praise, and more so, as coming from a body, whose every action has heretofore been for their own individual comfort and case, being willing to remain at home, (or in Richmond
,) spending our money, discussing means to exempt themselves from serving their country, and quietly view those more loyal than they go forward and gain an independence, and they, because, forsooth, they are legislators, cannot go to the field of battle, and thus endanger their valuable lives; yet when the noble work is done, and the dastardly foe driven from our sunny South, who will be more clamorous than they, in claiming that we
have fought and conquered.
Many of them were foremost in the ranks of secession last spring, and were calling upon all to rally to the standard of liberty, but now are shrinking from duty, and screening themselves behind an office that does not interfere with their known duty to an outraged country.--Many of our brave volunteers are deterred from again entering the ranks because the leaders have now become followers.
It is a lasting shame in times like these.
Why not exempt those who are engaged in raising insistence for the army?
They were the ones, (if any be exempt,) and not the lawyers who compose the Legislature, with a few honorable exceptions.
Then rally to your country's call, all who are now in service, and show Virginia
legislators that there remains in the noble old State men who are willing to sacrifice case and comfort for the sake of liberty; and when our sacred soil is polluted by the tread of a tyrant's foot, let every son be willing to avenge a mother's wrongs; and when we think of the noble sacrifice which was offered upon the altar at Roanoke
, may it prove an incentive to urge us to action, and may we be willing to imperil our lives in defence of a cause so full of interest to us all. Remember the boasts of our insulting foe, and show to him and all he has mistaken the men he has to fight.
Remember our victories and our losses, and may it nerve our hearts to greater struggles for independence and freedom.