previous next

[454] private houses, broke open ladies' wardrobes, destroyed of their rich contents what they could not appropriate, carried off jewels and plate, consigned to the flames stores of provisions, burnt mills and other houses, desolated some of the fairest homes of the State, and left whole families without food. Thanks to the gallantry of a citizen soldiery, they were routed and repulsed in the midst of this carnival of crrme, which must outrage the sensibilities of the civilized world. Many of them, with awakened consciousness of their deserts, now contemplate their doom within the walls of a prison from which they hoped to release their companions. An avenging God suddenly summoned their atrocious leader from the scenes of his wickedness to the bar of judgment, and on his slain body were found his atrocious instructions, stained with his own blood. The name of Dahlgren will be handed down to history as a fit associate in infamy with Butler and a host of lesser criminals, who have disgraced humanity and shocked the moral sense of the world. But in these very atrocities, you will discern the motive, if any were needed, for continued service and fresh sacrifices. Virginia takes no step backward. Every consideration of honor, interest, duty, and safety demand that we shall go forward in the grand struggle for human rights and human liberty, so bravely begun, and so manfully maintained. After all that we have suffered and endured, subjugation or submission to this cruel foe would reduce us to a degree of degradation and misery which has no parallel in the history of civilization. The sacrifices of blood and treasure that we have expended — the memories of the noble martyrs who have freely given their lives for the achievement of our independence, forbid that we should needlessly throw away what has been already won, in the vain hope of obtaining peace or security. Nothing but wretchedness and untold misery await us if we stop short of the unconditional acknowledgment of our independence. This your valor will surely command. Men of Virginia! you are soldiers of a renowned commonwealth, whose fame you have illustrated and borne aloft on every battle-field. We need not unfold to you the muniments of your right,to self-government. We are assured that you fully comprehend the necessity of a successful assertion of that right, and that you will never lay down your arms until you have secured it. Born to an inheritance of freedom, you cannot hesitate to choose between slavery or death. Submission to an enemy who has exhausted every infamy is not endurable even in thought; but were we base enough to desire peace upon any terms less than the unqualified recognition of our independence, self-interest alone would teach us the folly of relying upon the forbearance of a nation who have shown in every step of the war that their faith is, perfidy, and that their only policy is rapine, plunder, and oppression. The whole history of our former association with the Northern States admonishes us that in a common government they will never fail to employ their power to take away our property. Their present malice springs chiefly from baffled cupidity. But for this master passion of their nature, an honorable and speedy peace would be easy. The war has fully developed all the purposes, and you now know the fate that awaits you in the event of subjugation. Your liberties will utterly perish. Your State organization will be blotted out. All your property of every description will be confiscated; for all of us have participated in the revolution. Your lands will be divided out among the banditti from the North and from Europe, who have invaded our State. A free negro population will be established in your midst, who will be your social equals and military governors. Negro guards will, at their pleasure, give you passes' and safe conducts, or arrest you, to be tried and punished by negro commandants and magistrates. And to these, yourselves, your wives and children will be menial laborers and slaves, except those of you whom the malice of your enemies shall reserve for the dungeon or the gallows. Such is the doom denounced for the people of the South by the wicked race now warring upon us. But we know it can never be executed. An army of veterans have resolved that their country shall not be enslaved; and while their purpose stands, the enemy's designs will continue to be baffled. Among you there is one spirit — that of eager and resolute determination. The temper of the army has reached the people at home and inspired them with a fresh courage and a more assured confidence. Everywhere we see multiplied evidences of energy and enthusiasm. In all the States we find the resolution to endure every extremity rather than submit, and with this spirit our people are invincible. The armies are filling up their ranks, and the legislation of Congress has added still further to their numbers and efficiency. Those citizens who remain at home to carry on the industrial pursuits essential to the support of the army, will see to it that you shall not want for food while you are exposing your lives to protect their property and homes from rapine. The defence of the country has become its business, and every citizen is required to contribute to it in his proper sphere. The General Assembly of the commonwealth has taken steps to aid those families of her soldiers who may be in want, and it will not fail to do all in its power to provide for and cherish them. They have authorized and directed the purchase or impressment of unlimited supplies for their maintenance; appropriated one million dollars for the relief of such as are within the lines of the enemy, and half a million as a hospital fund for the sick and wounded. An organized agency, the State distributes the voluntary contributions of patriotic citizens. Individually and collectively, in county, city, and State organizations, the people with one accord are determined to feed, clothe, sustain, and cherish the army.

On the other hand, your enemies are appalled by the magnitude of the task before them. The

Creative Commons License
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.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Europe (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Ulric Dahlgren (1)
J. A. Butler (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: