We invoke all good citizens, wherever it is in their power, to place before deserters and absentees from the army the last appeal that General Lee
will ever make to them, to return to their duty and resume their place under the flag.--It will be seen that a full and free pardon is now offered to all who will come back within the specified time, but that thenceforth no pardons will be granted either to those who refuse the present offer or to those who are hereafter guilty of desertion.
We are sure that General Lee
must deeply deplore the necessity of such a determination.
No man has a kinder and more benevolent heart; no official, civil or military, has a more honest and profound sympathy with the private soldier.
He feels their suffering as his own; and they are well aware of the fact.
Indeed, his tenderness to those under his command has been regarded by some as the only defect in his military character.
For our part, we honor him for it, but when such a man feels the necessity of proclaiming that, if the present offer of Executive clemency is not regarded, there will be no more pardons hereafter, we feel assured that he means all that he says, and that he will be as inflexible in the execution of his duty as he is humane and merciful in seeking to avoid the terrible necessity.
We therefore earnestly entreat all the class whom he addresses to avail themselves of this last offer of pardon, and to return to the standards which they once illustrated by their valor, and to the comrades who are ready to welcome them once more to their side.
The most discontented must, now see that Lincoln
is only aiming at the complete subjugation and ruin of their native land; at the elevation of the negro to an equality with themselves, and compelling them to fight longer and more dreadful wars against France
than they will ever be called upon to fight under the Confederate
No one pretends to deny or to doubt; no Yankee hesitates to avow that, as soon as the United States
succeeds in putting down "the rebellion," it will drive France
The troops for that purpose will be drawn from the conquered South
; and unless the deserters expect to pass their lives in a successful escape from military duty, they will be forced into the front of this battle.
Their only hope as individuals is that of their country; in a triumphant resistance to Northern despotism.
There is no safety for any man except in the path of duty.--We invoke the deserters and absentees to listen to their beloved commander, and hasten to retrieve their own honor and the flag of their country.
Let them come back at once, and, with the blessing of God, our independence is secured.