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Chapter 7: preparations for War.

The troops received were tendered by independent organizations, “or who may volunteer by consent of their State” for twelve months, unless sooner discharged. There was a strong disinclination to a longer term being prescribed. The arms and munitions within the limits of the States were their property, they were received with their State organization, and officered by the State, and on March 16th, the States were recommended to cede the forts, arsenals, navy and dock yards, and all other public establishments to the Confederate States. May 6, 1861, the army of the Confederate States was lawfully established in contra-distinction to the Provisional army.

The relative rank of the officers of the Confederate States was regulated by the position that they had previously held in the United States army, or to which they had been elected or appointed in their State. The right of the States to confer the grade of colonel was secured; a higher grade might be by selection. [66]

The three highest officers of the Confederate army, “whose fame stands unchallenged either for efficiency or zeal,” were all so indifferent to any question of personal interest that they had received their appointment before they were aware it was to be conferred. The order of their rank was: General Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Robert E. Lee. When General A. S. Johnston was assigned to the West, he for the first time asked and learned what relative position he would serve. General Lee, in like manner, when he was assigned to duty beyond the limits of Virginia, learned for the first time his increased rank. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel A. C. Meyers was appointed Quartermaster-General; Captain L. B. Northrop was appointed to command the Subsistence Department. He made no memoir of his service, and Mr. Davis could not notice it in extenso. Surgeon-General Moore, from the Materia Medica of the South, supplemented the lack of drugs made contraband of war, and by the aid of his own ingenuity and that of his corps, supplied the surgical instruments, which were unfortunately scarce and especially needful for the hospitals in the field.

General Gorgas was appointed Chief of Ordnance, and if space were permitted to particularize the incalculable service he rendered, [67] the offering would be gladly made to the memory of one who was as unpretending as he was useful and devoted to the cause.

Captain Semmes wvas sent to the North to buy guns and all the available arms in the market, and also to get machinery and artisans for Government arsenals and shops; he ably performed the service, but the intervention of the civil authorities prevented the delivery of the arms and machinery. He was also directed to buy vessels suitable for defensive and offensive use, but unfortunately could find none. Major Huse was sent to Europe, on the third day after Mr. Davis's inauguration, to buy arms there. He found few serviceable arms on the market, but made such extensive contracts that, to bring them through the blockade, was after this the only difficulty encountered.

In the shop of the Government gun repairers was a musket from the Tower of London, made in 1762; it might have been fired in the Revolutionary war of 1776, taken part in the Indian wars, in the war of 1812, in the Indian wars of 1836 and 1837, in the Mexican war of 1845, and last in the war between the States.

The appropriations for the Navy had for years been mainly spent upon the Northern navy-yards, notwithstanding that much of the timber used had been from the South. We [68] had not the accessories for building vessels with the necessary celerity; we had no powder depots, and no store of it on hand, no saltpetre, and only the store of sulphur needful for clarifying the cane-sugar crop.

General G. W. Rains was appointed to establish a manufactory of ammunition, and he brought to the work experience and zeal which achieved a triumph that will be long remembered. The powder of the Confederate mills, under all the disadvantages that surrounded him, was recognized to be the best in the world.

On April 19, 1861, President Lincoln proclaimed a blockade, not as the effort to embarrass and destroy the commerce of a separate nation, but to subdue insurrection.

Mr. Davis wrote of the false presentation of the case to foreign governments made by Mr. Seward:

As late as April 22, 1861, Mr. Seward, the United States Secretary of State, in a despatch to Mr. Dayton, Minister to France, since made public, expressed the views and purposes of the United States Government in the premises as follows. It may be proper to explain that, by what he is pleased to term ‘the Revolution,’ Mr. Seward means the withdrawal of the Southern States; and that the words italicized are, perhaps, not so distinguished [69] in the original.

He wrote: “The Territories will remain in all respects the same, whether the revolution shall succeed or fail.”

“ There is not even a pretext for the complaint that the disaffected States are to be conquered by the United States if the revolution fails; for the rights of the States and the condition of every being in them will remain subject to exactly the same laws and forms of administration, whether the revolution shall succeed or whether it shall fail. In one case the States would be federally connected with the new Confederacy; in the other they would, as now, be members of the United States; but their Constitutions, laws, customs, habits, and institutions, in either case, will remain the same.”

Mr. Lincoln said in his inaugural address: “I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists; I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

The President of the Confederacy called the Congress together April 29th, and set before them the fact that the President of the United States had called out seventy-five thousand men, who were first to capture our forts. A blockade had been proclaimed to [70] destroy our commerce and intercept the necessary supplies. This he declared was in effect a declaration of war. He closed his message with these words: “We protest solemnly in the face of mankind, that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honor.”

No one who scrutinizes impartially the history of this stirring period of Mr. Davis's life can fail to observe the activity with which he pressed every available resource into service, how large was the discretion allowed to the government agents, and how prompt and farreaching were his provisions. His previous service in the United States War Department had rendered him familiar with all the sources of supply, and all that man could accomplish he did to equip our army and navy to meet the heavy odds with which they were confronted.

Nitre beds were established, manufactories of arms and powder were erected with marvellous celerity, old arms were altered, men were drilled and initiated in the arts of war; in fact, his activity was. unceasing and his success abnormal.

That large and learned, if not useful, class who after the event see lost opportunities, criminal negligence, and a supine disregard of the interest of the people, demonstrated by the leaders of a cause for which they have [71] staked their all, have not been silent at the Confederate President's failure to buy everything needful everywhere. The fame of an unsuccessful leader is like the picture in the fable. Each hypercritical spectator picks out an error and obliterates the trait, until, were there not true artists with high aims and Godgiven talents and enthusiasm, there would remain to us no presentation of the noble figure of a heroic ruler.

If Moses found, in the theocratic government he served, a golden calf lifted on high under the blaze of the “pillar of fire by night,” one cannot wonder at my husband's fate.

Detraction is the easiest form of criticism or eloquence, but just, discriminating praise requires the presence in the commentators of many of those qualities which are commended in the subject. It is probable that Junius would have made a sorry figure in the place of either Lords Mansfield or Chatham.

Before going further into the record of the invasion of the seceded slave-holding States, and the subjugation of those that still remained in the Union, it seems proper to glance briefly at the relative resources of the two powers that were so soon to be arrayed against each other in deadly conflict a £outrance.

In 1860 the United States had a population [72] exceeding thirty-one millions in the free States and eight millions in the South.

But the disparity between the two sections was more pronounced in the material resources of war than in the population. The Missouri was connected with the sea-board by the best system of railways in the world, having a total mileage of over thirty thousand, and an annual tonnage estimated at thirty-six millions. The annual revenue of this tonnage was valued at four thousand millions of dollars. The manufactures of the North represented an annual product of two thousand millions.

The North had all the manufacturing establishments necessary to produce all the materiel of war. She had an uninterrupted commerce with the outside world. Altogether, her manufacturing resources were about five hundred to one compared with those of the South. She had in addition to this the inestimable advantage of having all the workshops of the world open to her.

Nor did Europe furnish her with the materiel of war only; but the vast immigration that flocked from the Old World and landed in Northern ports brought an unfailing supply of recruits to her armies whenever the emergencies of the war made a fresh levy nec essary to refill the depleted armies in the field. [73]

The fury of the North was met by a cyclone of patriotic enthusiasm that swept up from the South. Tens of thousands of men of both sections who had hesitated, and who still hoped for an amicable adjustment of the troubles between the sections, were converted by the guns of Sumter to the belief that the time for compromise had passed, and that duty to their country demanded that they should join in patriotic efforts to repel the invader. When this “ground swell” moved the masses at the North, the Confederate Congress was still in session; Mr. Davis, who had never underestimated our peril, issued a proclamation calling on the States for volunteers, and also inviting applications for privateers to sail the high seas under Confederate letters of marque and reprisal.

Agents were despatched to foreign countries to buy small-arms, guns, and ships with their armaments. No limit was placed upon the amount to be purchased, or the price. The Confederate credit was good, and their President was willing to strain it to the utmost. Prompt, general, and enthusiastic was the popular response to the appeal of the President. Railway and transportation comr panies offered the free use of their lines and resources for the conveyance of troops and materiel of war. The railways not only voluntarily [74] reduced the charges hitherto demanded for the postal service, but offered to receive their pay at the reduced rates tendered in the bonds of the Confederacy.

The number of volunteers far exceeded the demand or the possibility of arming them. It was shown that if the Government had possessed arms enough for the entire adult white population of the Confederacy, they could have been enrolled at this time. Notwithstanding that men have railed long and loudly over volunteers having been refused, they knew at the time that, having no weapons with which to arm them, to accept their services was but to cripple the industries of the country without increasing the ranks of our defenders.

On May 20, 1861, the Congress resolved that the seat of Government of the Confederate States should be transferred from Montgomery to Richmond, and that it should adjourn to meet there on July 20th. It had already become evident that Virginia would be the battle-ground of the coming struggle, and it was desirable, therefore, that the Confederate Government should have its headquarters in that State.

Anxiety and unremitting labor had prostrated President Davis; and, when he left Montgomery, it was upon his bed. His mails [75] were heavy with warnings of an attempt at assassination; therefore it was a source of relief to us to know he had gone to Virginia. A few days before he had seen a man heavily armed peering into his room at our residence; he accosted him, but the man jumped over a fence and ran out of sight. He went on, accompanied only by his cabinet and staff, and in advance of the rest of the family. He was quite ill on the road and obliged to keep his bed. The crowd that gathered at each station would walk quietly down and look in on his sleeping face with the greatest tenderness; one or two said--“If he can only pull through the war!”

Within a week, the family followed by the ordinary train. The country was alive with soldiers-men in butternut trousers with gray homespun coats and epaulets of yellow cotton fringe. Several companies of soldiers waiting for transportation gave us very sweet serenades at the different stations. We reached Richmond in the morning, and the President met us in a carriage and four, sent down for our use by the citizens until our own carriage and horses came. This equipage was a trial to us, and as soon as possible we reduced our establishment to a carriage and pair. We were conducted to the Spottswood Hotel as guests of the city, until the house intended [76] for the residence of the Chief Executive should be finished. In the hotel we were domiciled with the cabinet and the aids, besides a number of ladies and gentlemen.

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