The situation of the Confederacy.
We feel perfectly confident in the belief that the despondency which to a certain extent has lately spread over the country is due, in a great degree, to the murmuring of those who have been subjected to the operation of the conscription by the repeal of the substitute laws.
Those gentlemen who, in the prime of life, with all their limbs sound and intact, with their bodily condition in a state of perfect health, strong, and active, who thought themselves secured from accident by shot and shell under cover of their substitutes, have found themselves mistaken, and there is no end to their lamentations.
Of course, the country must be gone to the dogs since they
are called upon to fight for it. What more terrible calamity can befall it than that they should be disturbed in their patriotic occupations of fleecing the public and hoarding up money, to bear arms, like common people, in defence of their lives, their homes, their families, and their firesides?
As long as the question was left to be decided by others, everything was going on well enough.
No reverse could daunt their courage, since it did not fall on them; no defeat could abate their hopes, since it did not endanger their money-bags
Now, however, the scene is completely reversed.
These patriots see ruin in everything — even in our very successes.
The idea of having to shoulder their muskets and face the enemy in person tinges all their contemplations, and causes them to see everything through a veil as murky as the very pit of perdition.
They live in an atmosphere rendered gloomy by their own personal apprehensions, and they fancy that it is the only
atmosphere in the world.
Because everything looks black and gloomy to them, they believe that everything is black and gloomy in very truth. "Pat
," said a gentleman sleeping at an inn to his Irish servant, "Pat
, open the door and see what sort of night it is." "Please your honor," answered Pat
, opening the door of a press and popping his nose upon a huge cheese, "Please your honor, it's dark and smells like cheese."
The discontent, the murmurs, the gloomy views of this class of malcontents have, we verily believe, done more to dispirit this people than all the disasters we have sustained from the beginning of the war to this moment.
Instead of meeting their fortune like men — instead of being thankful that for nearly three years of unexampled trials, dangers, and hardships, they have enjoyed, by the mere payment of a sum of money, a total exemption from them all — instead of taking up their muskets like men and doing their duty as every man is called on to do in this day of trial — a large portion of these people are engaged in no other occupation than that of spreading gloom and discontent around them.
And all for what?
Because they are called on to serve their country as well as the poor, ragged, hard-fighting veterans of Lee
, and Beauregard
, to whom they owe it that they have not long ago been stripped of every dollar that they have in the world, and made the servants of their own negroes and the mockery of the white scoundrels with whom they are associated.
Let us not be understood as embracing in these remarks all
or even the larger portion of the substitute hirers.--Some of them, a large portion, accept their fate with cheerfulness; others, quite a large body, were compelled to procure substitutes by a necessity inferior only in its exactions to absolute duty.
We speak of that class, and it is a very large one, which procured substitutes for the purpose of making money out of this war, and of that other class, a larger one still, which procured them merely to keep their own carcasses out of danger.
These classes it is whose complaints and clamors have had so large a share in depressing the spirits of the people at large.
It must proceed from some such source as this, or how are we to account for it?
The country, certainly,
is in no worse condition now than it has been on more than one occasion heretofore.
Compared with the situation in which it stood two years ago — when Donelson
surrendered, and New Orleans and Memphis
were taken; when McClellan
had an army of 250,000 men behind the Potomac
, and Johnston
had less than 40,000 to face him; when the volunteer system had failed to procure any more recruits, and Congress was wasting its time, as it is now, in listening to Buncombe speeches, instead of passing a conscription law. Assuredly, it is not so bad now as it was when McClellan
lay around this city with an army of 150,000 men; when every hour a disaster which might throw it open to his advance was expected; when the Government
was preparing to save itself by flight, and Congress, after hurrying through a conscription bill, just in time to save the country, did actually abandon their posts, and fly like a rabble of militia before a charge of cavalry.
We hear enormous boasting of their preparations from the enemy, and we give way to panic just as if they never boasted before, or as if we had not heretofore withstood them in spite of all their braggadocio.
Why, when the war was about to open, they were confident of subduing us with 75,000 men. 25,000 were to march from Cairo
down the Mississippi
, 25,000 were to land and march on Charleston
, and 25,000 were to move upon Richmond
Not the least doubt was expressed of success, which was to be signalized by hanging Jeff. Davis
"over the battle ments (!)
." Have the loud boasts and confident predictions that heralded the march of McClellan
upon this city been forgotten?
Is nothing remembered of that famous number of a Yankee periodical which contained a picture of his triumphal entry, in all the pomp, pride, and circumstance of glorious war, his gigantic troopers cutting down the poor diminutive "Secesh" men, who were seen in crowds throwing themselves on their knees and lifting up their hands to their conquerors as though imploring the mercy of beings belonging to another race and a higher sphere?
Have we forgotten the pompous descriptions of the iron-clad vessels, and the continued glorifications of Yankeedom's invincible legions, which crowded the columns of all their papers at that remarkable period?
Have they not said every day in the year that from that day, so many months, the rebellion was to be crushed?
And are we weak-kneed enough now to succumb to what is nothing more than a repetition of their empty bravadoes?
Will the people of this country permit their spirits to be cast down by the repining of men who repine merely because they are compelled to fight for their homes instead of leaving others to do all the fighting for them?
That the Yankees
are making desperate efforts to bring the war to a speedy termination cannot be doubted, and we, at least, are not at all disposed to deny it. But the very prices which they offer for the re-enlistment of their veterans, proves that this effort will
be their last.
The very fact that they are enlisting our negroes to do their fighting for them, proves a scarcity of men who have any stomach for the war. Nevertheless, they will make this effort, and it will be gigantic.
And how do we propose to meet it?
Not, we presume, by a tame surrender; not by giving up our houses to be taken possession of by negroes; not by turning over all our goods and chattels to be confiscated for the benefit of the Yankees
; not by sitting with our arms folded, or wringing our hands and blubbering over our misfortunes.
These are the inevitable consequences of submission, and we do not suppose even the most gloomy of the substitute purchasers contemplate such a surrender as that.
If they do not, there is but one alternative.
It is to obey the laws of Congress cheerfully and with alacrity — to fight the enemy, since better may not be done.
While our Congressmen are talking, they are preparing for their formidable onset.
We must be prepared to meet them, and we can be prepared if the proper steps be taken.
meet them, and we must beat them.
What is more, we can meet them, and we can beat them.
What is most of all, we will meet them, and we will beat them.
Away, then, with all this childish despondency.
There is no occasion for it, and if there were, this is not the time to indulge in it. The Confederacy has not yet put forth one-half its strength.
It has risen always with the occasion, and thus it will continue to rise, as fast as fresh occasions present themselves.
For our own part, we never have doubted of the issue, even when McClellan
was around this city, and that, we take it, was the darkest hour of the Confederacy