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Chapter 4: going to Montgomery.-appointment of the Cabinet.

It was necessary to close up our home and abandon all we had watched over for years, before going to Montgomery; our library, which was very large and consisted of fine and well-closen English books, was the hardest to relinquish of all our possessions. After all was secured, in the best manner practicable, I went to New Orleans en route to Montgomery, and remained a few days at my father's house. While there, Captain Dreux, at the head of his battalion, came to serenade me, but I could not command my voice to speak to him. when he came on the balcony; his cheery words and the enthusiasm of his men depressed me dreadfully. Violets were in season, and the captain and his company brought several immense bouquets. The color seemed ominous. Perhaps Mr. Davis's depression had communicated itself to me, and I could not rally or be buoyed up by the cheerfulness of those who were to do battle for us. The morituri te salutant always greeted me as our men entered the arena, [35]

Captain Dreux was of the French type of soldier, not quite of the average size, with flashing eyes, and an exceedingly pleasant address. His blood was the first spilled on the Peninsula, near Yorktown. In the ardor of his attack he exposed himself too soon and fell mortally wounded. His body was brought back to Richmond, and I looked upon his face a second time, calm in death; for him all problems were solved and the smile of his first youth had settled upon the rigid features. If a soldier must fall in battle, it is not the worst fate to be the first to seal his faith with his blood, his comrades have time to miss and deplore him. My journey up the Alabama River to join Mr. Davis in Montgomery was a very sad one, sharing his apprehensions, and knowing our needs to be so many, with so little hope of supplying them.

The young men who came to tell me of the “general's sash” they hoped to win; the old men who spoke of the “soldiering,” as an unlooked for circumstance, depressed me still more. No one was bitter, but each thought he had a perfect right to secede and “did not mind Mr. Davis being a little slow.” A secession man said, “We see that he thinks we ought to assert our rights, but we began to fear that he had stayed too long up there with the Yankees.” A Mississippi man answered [36] this remark with flushing face by saying, “Remember Mexico, sir, remember Mexico;” which silenced the joker.

When we reached the hotel where the President was temporarily lodged, the Provisional Congress had assembled, he had been inaugurated, and the day of my arrival the Confederate flag had been hoisted by the daughter of Colonel Robert Tyler, and the grand-daughter of the ex-President. The family were at that time living in Montgomery. Mr. Davis was very averse to relinquishing the old flag, and insisted that a different battle-flag would make distinction enough between the combatants; but he was overruled and a new one substituted, with a blue union containing the stars in white at equal distances; the flag had one broad white and two red stripes the same width. Under it we won our victories, and the memory of its glory will never fade. It is enshrined with the extinct Confederation in our hearts forever.

The town swarmed with men desiring and receiving commissions. Statesmen, lawyers, congressmen, planters, merchants pressed forward ardently to fulfil their part in the struggle. The Hon. William C. Rives, of Virginia, Pierce Butler, T. Butler King, William L. Yancey, James M. Mason, R. M. [37] T. Hunter, John S. Preston, of Virginia, William Preston, of Kentucky, F. S. Bartow, of Georgia, J. P. Mallory and Steven Mallory, the Hon. James Chesnut, of South Carolina, and thousands of others. Dr. Russell, a very storm-bird of battles, the correspondent of the London Times, came to see and report.

Very few battled for rank; they were there for service; and the majority simply gave their names; if they had previously held rank in the army or navy they mentioned the grade, and left the authorities to define their position in the Confederate army.

The house chosen for us was a gentleman's residence, roomy enough for our purposes, on the corner of a street and looking toward the State Capitol. There were many charming people there, who were all intent on kind services to us; our memory of Montgomery was one of affectionate welcome, and if we should have judged from the hampers of blossoms poured out before us, it was a flowery kingdom.

The members of the Cabinet were chosen not from the intimate friends of the President, but from the men preferred by the States they represented; but it would have been difficult to find more honest, capable, fearless men than they were. They established themselves as best they could in boarding-houses and [38] hotels, until more leisure would enable them to choose fitting habitations.

Mr. Davis wrote of the formation of his Cabinet thus:

“--Unencumbered by any other consideration than the public welfare, having no friends to reward or enemies to punish, it resulted that not one of those who formed my first Cabinet had borne to me the relation of close personal friendship, or had political claims upon me; indeed, with two of them I had no previous acquaintance.”

Mr. Davis wished very much to appoint the Honorable Robert Barnwell to be Secretary of State, on account of the great confidence he felt in him and of his affection for him; but Mr. Memminger, of South Carolina, was pressed for Seiretary of the Treasury. Mr. Barnwell therefore declined the portfolio of State. Mr. Memminger's portfolio had been intended for Mr. Toombs, of Georgia. Mr. Mallory had been chairman of the Naval Committee in the Senate, and was urged for Secretary of the Navy.

Mr. Benjamin's legal attainments caused him to be invited to be Attorney-General. Mr. Reagan was appointed Postmaster-General because of his sturdy honesty, his capacity for labor, and his acquaintance with the territory of the Southern States. Mr. Leroy [39] Pope Walker's name was the only one urged by Alabama for the War Department.

The Confederate Congress declared that the laws of the United States in force and use in the Confederate States of America on November Ist were continued, until repealed by Congress. The collectors and assistant treasurers were also continued in their offices.

The Provisional Government recommended that immediate steps be taken to adjust the claims of the United States Government on the public property, to apportion the assumption of the common debt and all other disputed points “upon principles of right, justice, equity, and good faith.”

They passed a resolution on February 15th, before the President's arrival at Montgomery, that a commission of three persons should be appointed by him as early as possible to be sent to the Government of the United States, for the purpose of negotiating friendly relations between the two governments.

The known courage, inflexible principle, self-denial, and devotion to duty of the President had been personally observed by the men of the Provisional Congress in the body from which they had just seceded, where the majority of its members had served with him in the United States Congress for years. With many of them he held relations of per, [40] sonal friendship, and the Executive and Legislative branches of the Government were in that close accord which seemed to promise the utmost efficiency for each.

Mr. Davis went to his office before nine o'clock and came home at six, exhausted and silent, but he was so gentle and patient that Pierce Butler, who was our guest at this time, asked me jestingly, if he was always a “combination of angel and seer like that.” He slept little and ate less, but seemed to derive great comfort from the certainty that the Provisional Congress had a thorough co-intelligence with him, and would heartily co-operate with the Executive in all essentials.

Now began in earnest the business of perpetuating the old Government under which the rights of the minority had been for fifty years fully protected, but against which a revolution had prevailed. Every change in the Constitution was jealously avoided. New and more express guarantees for the old liberty were sought to be enacted, so that no future majority could have color of pretext for overriding another minority, which might be evolved in the future out of the divergent interests of the Confederate States.

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