Union has been dissolved. They recognize the separate existence of these Confederate States, by an interdictive embargo and blockade of all commerce between them and the United States, not only by sea, but by land; not only in ships, but in cars; not only with those who bear arms, but with the entire population of the Confederate States. Finally, they have repudiated the foolish conceit that the inhabitants of this Confederacy are still citizens of the United States; for they are waging an indiscriminate war upon them all, with savage ferocity, unknown in modern civilization. In this war, rapine is the rule; private houses, in beautiful rural retreats, are bombarded and burnt; grain crops in the field are consumed by the torch, and, when the torch is not convenient, careful labor is bestowed to render complete the destruction of every article of use or ornament remaining in private dwellings after their inhabitants have fled from the outrages of brute soldiery. In 1781 Great Britain, when invading the revolted colonies, took possession of every district and county near Fortress Monroe, now occupied by the troops of the United States. The houses then inhabited by the people, after being respected and protected by avowed invaders, are now pillaged and destroyed by men who pretend that Virginians are their fellow-citizens. Mankind will shudder at the tales of the outrages committed on defenseless families by soldiers of the United States, now invading our homes; yet these outrages are prompted by inflamed passions and the madness of intoxication. But who shall depict the horror they entertain for the cool and deliberate malignancy which, under the pretext of suppressing insurrection, (said by themselves to be upheld by a minority only of our people,) makes special war on the sick, including children and women, by carefully-devised measures to prevent them from obtaining the medicines necessary for their cure. The sacred claims of humanity, respected even during the fury of actual battle, by careful diversion of attack from hospitals containing wounded enemies, are outraged in cold blood by a Government and people that pretend to desire a continuance of fraternal connections. All these outrages must remain unavenged by the universal reprehension of mankind. In all cases where the actual perpetrators of the wrongs escape capture, they admit of no retaliation. The humanity of our people would shrink instinctively from the bare idea of urging a like war upon the sick, the women, and the children of an enemy. But there are other savage practices which have been resorted to by the Government of the United States, which do admit of repression by retaliation, and I have been driven to the necessity of enforcing the repression. The prisoners of war taken by the enemy on board the armed schooner Savannah, sailing under our commission, were, as I was credibly advised, treated like common felons, put in irons, confined in a jail usually appropriated to criminals of the worst dye, and threatened with punishment as such. I had made application for the exchange of these prisoners to the commanding officer of the enemy's squadron off Charleston, but that officer had already sent the prisoners to New York when application was made. I therefore deemed it my duty to renew the proposal for the exchange to the constitutional commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, the only officer having control of the prisoners. To this end, I despatched an officer to him under a flag of truce, and, in making the proposal, I informed President Lincoln of my resolute purpose to check all barbarities on prisoners of war by such severity of retaliation on prisoners held by us as should secure the abandonment of the practice. This communication was received and read by an officer in command of the United States forces, and a message was brought from him by the bearer of my communication, that a reply would be returned by President Lincoln as soon as possible. I earnestly hope this promised reply (which has not yet been received) will convey the assurance that prisoners of war will be treated, in this unhappy contest, with that regard for humanity, which has made such conspicuous progress in the conduct of modern warfare. As measures of precaution, however, and until this promised reply is received, I still retain in close custody some officers captured from the enemy, whom it had been my pleasure previously to set at large on parole, and whose fate must necessarily depend on that of prisoners held by the enemy. I append a copy of my communication to the President and commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the report of the officer charged to deliver my communication. There are some other passages in the remarkable paper to which I have directed your attention, having reference to the peculiar relations which exist between this Government and the States usually termed Border Slave States, which cannot properly be withheld from notice. The hearts of our people are animated by sentiments toward the inhabitants of these States, which found expression in your enactment refusing to consider them enemies, or authorize hostilities against them. That a very large portion of the people of these States regard us as brethren; that, if unrestrained by the actual presence of large armies, subversion of civil authority, and declaration of martial law, some of them, at least, would joyfully unite with us; that they are, with almost entire unanimity, opposed to the prosecution of the war waged against us, are facts of which daily-recurring events fully warrant the assertion that the President of the United States refuses to recognize in these, our late sister States, the right of refraining from attack upon us, and justifies his refusal by the assertion that the States have no other power than that reserved to them in the Union by the Constitution. Now, one of them having ever
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Battle of Bull Run .
Doc . 4 .- N. Y. Tribune narrative.
Doc . 59 : a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo , U. S. N. , to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher .
Doc . 65 -speech of Galusha A. Grow , on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States , July 4 .
Doc . 135 .- Virginia ordinance, prohibiting citizens of Virginia from holding office under the United States , passed July , 1861 .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.