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The President and Congress have both called attention to the subject of absenteeism and desertion. In its late address to the people, Congress says: ‘ "We have upon our rolls a very large army of veteran soldiers. It is true — and it is a sad truth to confess — that the number present for duty is terribly disproportion to the entire aggregate. This is too notorious for concealment — and we have no desire to conceal anything. We wish to speak frankly and truthfully to you of the actual condition of things. The number of absentees from your armies has been a fruitful cause of disaster. On many a hard-fought field the tide of success would have turned overwhelmingly in our favor had all be a present whom duty required to participate in the strife. We will not stop to inquire into the causes of an evil which we have so much reason to deplore. The remedy is partly in the hands of Congress, and it is our province to apply it. But it is partly, also, in yours, and we appeal to you to use it. Let every good citizen frown down upon, and indignantly discountenance, all evasion of military duty, whether temporary or permanent — no matter how plausible the pretext or palliating the reason. "No duty, in this crisis of our affairs, can be more imperative than to fight for one's country, family and home. Let no skulker, deserter, or absentee without leave, from the army, be tolerated in any community. Let the reproachful glance of our women, between whose honor and the brutal foe our noble army stands as a flaming sword drive him back to the field. With proper-officers, strict discipline, and an elevated tone of public opinion throughout the country, desertion and absenteeism in the army can be arrested, and all men liable to military duty put into, and kept in, the ranks of our armies. If this be effected, we can maintain in the field a force sufficient to defy subjugation." ’ We commend this appeal to the people, to our brethren of the press, and to deserters and absentees themselves. We know that all are not equally culpable. But the time has come when none of them can longer forsake his noble comrades without everlasting remorse and shame. Already have we been brought to great disasters by their conduct. But they may still retrieve their good names by coming back at this critical moment and helping the brethren they have deserted to achieve a triumph which will cast into the shade all their former delinquencies. What can they gain, if, by their desertion and absence, we are conquered? Will the enemy respect them any more than those who have been faithful? Was there ever an enemy who, while he loved the treason, did not despise the traitor? Was Arnold an object of love to the British Government? They will be the most miserable and the most scorned, both by friend and foe, of all the inhabitants, white and black, of a subjugated land. How will they like to look upon themselves, their wives and children, reduced to the social position of negroes, thrust aside from every way of earning their bread by Yankees and foreigners, and feel that but for themselves this degradation and misery might not have been?--But look at the other side of the question. What will be their condition if we succeed? Let us tell them that this is no such impossible matter as some of them fancy. There are armies in the field who are strong and confident of victory. There is a just God above, who controls the destinies of nations, and can save by many or by few. The United States can never bring such forces into the field as it has had in times past. Their capitalists are becoming alarmed by the prospect of an indefinite prolongation of the war.--Their public debt is believed to be already equal to the national debt of England. A grand financial crash may, at any moment, bring their arrogant pretensions to the dust. If true to ourselves, if faithful and enduring, we shall, with the blessing of Heaven, yet accomplish our independence. And what will be the feelings, in that event, of the men who have forsaken their country in her trials, and their comrades in their danger? How will they like to be pointed at then as deserters, and have that name cling to their children and their children's children? A Yankee deserter need feel no shame, for he is deserting an army of invasion. But a Confederate deserter,--a man who forsakes the defence of his country, his home, his liberty, his own flesh and blood,--who abandons all them to save his own life from danger, what language has power to describe such a deed?
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