A Northern witness for Captain Wirz.
From N., La., Picayune, July 26, 1908.
Immediately after the surrender of the relics of the Southern
armies that had fought the war of secession to the end and had laid down their arms upon guarantees given by General Grant
, who commanded all the United States armies and was universally recognized as the savior of the Union
, the leading politicians in the North
, infuriated and enraged against the Southern
people, sought some pretext upon which the Southern
leaders could be put to ignominious death and their property confiscated and divided out among the robbers, while portions of the confiscated lands were to be allotted to the emancipated negro slaves.
Such was the programme marked out by the South-haters in both houses of the United States Congress.
Fortunately they were prevented from carrying out their nefarious and murderous schemes by several circumstances which may well be considered providential interventions.
One of these was the declaration by General Grant
that no policy of violence and outrage could be perpetrated upon the military officers
and soldiers who had laid down their arms and surrendered to him as long as the prisoners regarded their paroles and kept faith upon which they had ceased fighting.
was at that time universally popular, and so complete was his hold upon the regard of the people that nothing could be done towards persecuting the surrendered Southern Soldiers contrary to his will.
Another circumstance which also contributed to save the Southern
people from wholesale massacre and confiscation was
the fact that President Lincoln
, just before his tragic and to the South
most calamitous death, had begun to put in operation a plan to rehabilitate and restore to their places in the Union
the several Southern States, and after his death the task was recommenced by his successor, Andrew Johnson
Whatever might have been the disposition of the Northern
politicians toward Lincoln
's movements for Southern reinstatement, when it was undertaken by Andrew Johnson
, it created such a state of fury and hate that his impeachment and expulsion from office was immediately attempted by Congress.
In a trial of impeachment a committee from the House of Representatives makes the accusations, while the Senate sitting as a court under the presidency of the Chief Justice
, hears the evidence and votes upon the guilt or innocence of the accused.
A two-thirds vote is required to convict, and in this case one vote was lacking to secure conviction.
Thus, by the narrowest possible margin President Johnson
escaped impeachment, and he constantly stood as a stern and unflinching opposer of all the radical schemes attempted by Congress against the Southern States
and people, so that although he could not prevent the legislation that imposed the infamous Reconstruction measures upon the South
, he was able at least to prevent the wholesale enslavement of the white people of the South
and the plunder of their property.
Being unable to wreak their hate in mass upon the Southern
people there still remained the possibility of resorting to individual outrages.
One of these expedients was to try Jefferson Davis
for treason and to condemn him to death and execute him. When all the great lawyers of the North
had vainly searched the Constitution
and laws for some warrant to make Davis
a traitor, the bloody inquisitors, determined to have a victim at last, were reduced to the expedient of making one of Captain Henry Wirz
the Commandant of the Confederate
prison at Andersonville, Ga.
In August, 1865, a special order was issued from the War Department, summoning a court martial to try Captain Henry Wirz
and other prisoners.
That military court made a report, of which the following is an extract: