me as revolutionary; I may outrage the sensibilities of some who love their property dearly; but liberty is dearer to me than property, and the brave men who defend that liberty are dearer to me than the men who withhold the provisions from them.
They may denounce me for this sentiment, as I denounce them for their conduct; the result is, that we will entertain for each other mutual disgust.
I do not pretend to deny that many officers of the government have done wrong, and committed outrages.
I do not justify them; but it is better to endure some of these wrongs and bear these outrages than to lose liberty and all. What is that property of yours worth if the enemy gets possession of your country?
What are your rights in the hands and under the control of the minions of Lincoln
You must choose between our own people and our own government, and the people and the government of your enemy.
There is no middle ground.
One or the other must have your provisions.
One or the other must be supplied from your granaries.
These brave soldier boys of our own kith and kindred must either feed upon your meat and bread, or the Yankees
must feed upon them, and I tell you frankly if you refuse to let the government have your provisions, and you could be separated in one portion of the land by yourselves, I would not care how soon the Yankees
got possession of both them and you.
There is but one class of men in our community meaner than the speculator and extortioner, and that is the man who is unwilling to let his produce go for the support of our brave soldiers in the field.
What better are you than speculators and extortioners, who cling to your provisions with a starving army upon your border?
What is the speculator and extortioner but the man who loves gold and property more than life and liberty?
Is not that your case?
And do you think that you satisfy the demands of your country and of your own conscience, because you agree with others in this denunciation of Yankees?
If there is any man in this wide world who hates the Yankee
race worse than I do, I am sorry for him, because he must have devoted his whole heart to the work; but I tell you, and the history of this war will bear me out in the assertion, that many true-hearted Southern men were born at the North
, and some of the vilest Yankees
that ever disgraced this earth were born at the South
There is another duty which we are called upon to perform.
Not only must these bravo men be clothed and fed and supported in the field, but their families must be provided for and taken care of at home.
When I see a soldier's wife, whose little ones are dependent upon her labor for support, go into one of the stores of Atlanta
, and she is asked to pay from ten to twenty dollars per bushel for meal, and corresponding prices for other articles necessary for the support and comfort of that family, I am compelled in my heart to say there is some great wrong somewhere.
I know if you go to the merchant he will tell you he has to pay so large a price that he cannot afford to sell for less.
Go to the man he bought it from, and the same story is told, and so on. It is not for me to decide who is to blame.
I know not at whose door the fault lies, but it must rest somewhere; the responsibility must rest upon the conscience of some man that can be reached.
I confess frankly to you, that with all my confidence in our cause, with all my devotion to it, my heart sinks within me when these scenes are passing before me view.
I ask myself the question: Can a kind Providence
, a God of mercy and justice, bless a people among whom these wrongs are perpetrated; these outrages practised?
I know, my friends, that our people have done well by the soldiers' families; I know that in many counties ample provisions have been made for their support, but in others only a small yearly pittance has been provided, which will scarcely pay the expense of going to market and obtaining a week's supply for the family.
See to it that no soldier's wife or child shall suffer and you be responsible for it. To those who have much or have accumulated much, to them I appeal — to their liberality, their generosity — to their sense of justice.
Let it be written of us as it was written of others in the olden time: “He that had gathered much had nothing over, and he that had gathered little had no lack.”
Let this be the rule of your conduct.
You ask me, then, what of the condition of my country?
My friends, I say it all depends upon yourselves.
I have never, in so short a space of time, thought so much of the condition of the country in reference to the dangers by which we are surrounded and the duties we are called upon to perform.
You ask me now in reference to the dangers.
Tell me first, are you doing any thing in reference to the discharge of your duty?
Has your spirit been aroused and excited by those dangers?
Are you prepared to give your life, if need be, to your country, and go to the field, if required?
Are you prepared to furnish from your granaries the provisions necessary to feed our armies?
Answer me these questions and then I can tell you what of the night.
If you answer me that you are ready to discharge these duties, then I can answer that all is well.
It is the answer of our brave soldiers in the field.
There is with them no spirit of despondency.
They are unbroken in spirits; firm, true, and steadfast to the cause in which they are engaged.
They stand there as a band of brothers, fearless and defiant of danger.
Tell me of the thousands and thousands that the enemy have concentrated for the spring campaign.
I tell you that all Yankeedom, assisted by abolition sympathizers throughout the civilized world, cannot conquer and subjugate the south if you are true to yourselves and your country.
Therefore, choose you this night!
Your fate is in your own hands.
Are you looking forward with a hope which has no residing place in your conviction, and is only flitting through your mind, that, perhaps, after all, some foreign interference