previous next

Doc. 145.-official correspondence between Governor Stanly and General Hill.

Major-General Hill to Governor Stanly.

Goldsboro, N. C., March 24, 1863.
His Excellency E. Stanly, Military Governor of North-Carolina:
sir: A letter from you to Major-General French has been referred to me as his successor. It was with deep mortification and pain I perceived that a son of the proud and honored house of Stanly should so far forget his noble lineage as to descend to low abuse of his own people for the sake of pleasing his Yankee masters. It is true that some houses were burnt in Plymouth by confederate troops. It is alleged that it was done to oust some Yankee thieves and marauders who had taken shelter in them. I hope that this is so, and that the act was not one of wanton wickedness. It is plain, however, that if the Yankee scoundrels had been at home attending to their own business, Plymouth would not have been disturbed. The burden of the sin rests, therefore, upon the brutal invaders of a peaceful and peace-loving people.

May I not hope that your Excellency, the Military Governor of North-Carolina, having rebuked confederate atrocities, will devote a portion of your valuable time to the excesses of the infernal Yankees? In the gubernatorial peregrinations of your Excellency from Currituck to Cherokee — the seaboard to the mountains — you must have been struck with the remarkable fact that there are more houses burnt in a few eastern counties than in all the rest of the great State over which your Excellency presides.

It is observable that the counties so desolated are those in which the Yankee friends of your Excellency have been able to penetrate. Your Yankee master, Foster, is accustomed to make raids whenever he learns that his forces exceed the confederate five to one. Your Excellency is well aware that the path of this murderer and freebooter has ever been marked by the glare of burning churches, school-houses, private residences, barns, stables, fences, etc., etc. Your Excellency may have some influence with these brigands, and a gentle hint to them that this may not be the best way of restoring the Union would doubtless meet with their respectful attention.

North-Carolina is peculiarly happy to have two Governors in this sad crisis. Her civil Governor [475] at Raleigh has often bared his bosom on the deadly bullet in defence of his native State. Her military Governor has not thought it prudent to expose his gubernatorial person in battle. It is to be hoped, however, that when he has organized his negro brigade, his Excellency the military Governor will (having laid in an abundant supply of ottar of roses and eau de cologne) put himself at its head, and strike for his own, his native land.

The parallel between Governors suggests another between generals. There was a Yankee general named Arnold, who turned tory. There was a Southern general named Washington, who was a rebel. The British honored the rebel and despised the tory. North-Carolina has a civil Governor and a military Governor — a rebel and a tory. Mean as the Yankees are, they respect the former and loathe the latter.

In conclusion, permit me to assure your Excellency that, with the distinguished consideration due to your exalted position, I subscribe myself your obedient servant,

D. H. Hill., Major-General Confederate States Army.

Governor Stanly to Major-General Hill.

Newbern, N. C., March 27, 1863.
To Major-General D. H Hill, C. S.A., Goldsboro:
sir: By flag of truce last night I received a communication from you of the twenty-fourth instant, full of insolent falsehood and blackguard abuse.

To those who know any thing of the peculiar traits of your character, it will be amusing to learn that you were capable of feeling “mortification and pain” because of any unfortunate conduct of a North-Carolinian.

You say I have descended to low abuse of my own people. I do not know what the abuse to which you have reference can be, unless it was when I characterized as “cowardly incendiaries” the men under the command of General French who burned the town of Plymouth.

I did condemn and do condemn as “cowardly incendiaries” the perpetrators of that diabolical outrage; but I have never believed they were citizens of North-Carolina. It was evidently a premeditated attempt to destroy the whole town. The houses of widows, of Union men, and of secessionists, who had been protected by the troops of the United States, were indiscriminately burned, without regard to the entreaties and tears of their wives and daughters. General French only admitted the firing of one house. You now admit that some houses were burned in Plymouth by “confederate troops.” But unfortunately — if to be convicted of falsehood can be a misfortune to a general in the “Confederate States army” --while you confess his sin, you, from the force of irresistible habits, are guilty of the same infirmity. You say, “it is alleged it was done to oust some Yankee thieves and marauders.” What I have stated above of the character of the persons residing in the houses is a sufficient refutation of this.

I am happy to know that you and I differ in opinion as to those upon whom the burden of this sin rests. If the Union forces were “brutal invaders,” I see no excuse for your burning the towns of those peaceful citizens whom you profess you came to save.

If it will afford you pleasure, you may know that I have omitted no opportunity of rebuking any “atrocities” committed by troops of the United States, in which I have been sustained by the gallant General upon whom you so unworthily endeavor to cast reproach.

As far as my observation extends, I know of but two attempts in North-Carolina to destroy towns by burning — both these were made by men of your political school. I refer to the attempt to destroy Newbern and to the burning of Plymouth.

You are pleased, in the mean malignity of your nature, to make a comparison of the civil and military Governors of North-Carolina, in the hope of wounding my feelings. How little you know of the feelings and character of the gentleman whom you would assail.

I feel a just and proper pride for the good conduct of any true son of North-Carolina, even when engaged in a bad cause. The gallant gentleman to whom you refer — as little honored by your praise as I am injured by your sneers — was honored by my “own people” --North-Carolinians — for his lifelong devotion to the Union and his often expressed detestation of secession villains — your associates in treason. He was justly endeared to his own people, because of his eloquent denunciation of the fiendish traitors, like yourself, who were trying for years to plunge his country in civil war. In an hour of excitement, believing his State was about to be invaded, he drew his sword in her defence. I honor his patriotism, while I mourn his error. He will, I trust, continue to merit public gratitude by resisting the tyranny of the destructives who hate and slander him. He will live to regret he ever did any thing to call forth your praise. Those who know you both, know you are not worthy to unlatch his shoe-string. He was not indebted to you or to your friends for his present position, and, notwithstanding his gallantry, his breast was exposed to all the bullets of your calumny.

You “bite a file,” viper, when you speak of my organizing a “negro brigade.” In this respect, even from secessionists, my conduct is unassailable.

But truth demands I should declare that if I were compelled to choose between fighting with such secessionists and town-burners as you are, attempting to destroy the government, and with “a negro brigade” to prevent is destruction, I should prefer the negro brigade. Under no circumstances could I submit to the degradation of an association with men who would serve under such a man as D. H. Hill.

Your allusion to Arnold is beneath contempt, and only reveals the deep malignity which you have had toward me. Though bound to my native land with “hooks of steel,” my adopted [476] home is California. My loyalty to her is not impeached. My duty to her is undeniable. Her determination in the present crisis is not doubted. I hardly think even one of your mad prejudices against the “infernal Yankees,” in a sober moment, would condemn as a traitor him who was faithful in his allegiance to his home, whether that home was California, Louisiana, or Vermont.

But the height of hypocritical audacity is reached when you, though rather tamely, endeavor to speak respectfully of the “Southern General Washington.” In your estimation his only title to public honor was that he was called a rebel, and that he was “honored by the British,” and therefore honored by D. H. Hill, “Major-General, confederate States army!”

The monomaniac of secession, D. H. Hill, at last speaks respectfully of Washington! “Therefore it became a proverb, is Saul also among the prophets.” Washington's Farewell Address has always been regarded by all of the “proud and honored house of Stanly” as entitled to veneration next to that due to Holy Writ. They were taught to treat with scorn rebel hypocrites like you, whose malignant efforts for years past have been directed in poisoning the minds of your countrymen, and encouraging them to hate their Northern brethren; encouraging them to smile benignantly upon all efforts to alienate one portion of our country from another. Is it not reaching the pinnacle of hypocritical audacity for you to “damn with faint praise” the memory of Washington?

You are not mistaken, sir, in one thing. I am a little proud. I do not claim to be of “noble lineage.” That is the cant of the would-be lords of the South-Carolina school, that I despise. But I am descended of honest, patriotic people, whose blood and fortunes in the Revolution were poured out to secure the blessings of the Union that you, with felon hand, would destroy.

I well understand the cause of your malignity. More than a quarter of a century ago I denounced, in my first campaign, politicians like you, as those who would “rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven” My observation in public life has justified me in this opinion. I am “proud” to know I have despised and been hated by them as I am by you.

You come from a people that for many years have sneered at North-Carolina as “the Rip Van Winkle of the South.” You are one of the “witlings and scorners,” reprobated by one great and good for so doing. You have been one of those who loved to revile her, until by devilish stratagem you involved her in war, and when by her gallant men she saved you from the halter, you have condescended to “honor” her. Even now, after all her sacrifices and sufferings, she is reviled by one of your secession curs in office at Richmond as a “nest of damned traitors!”

You and I, sir, move in different spheres. I have followed the teachings of Washington and the Yankees Hamilton, Adams, and Webster. You have followed those of the “Catilines of the historian and the Captain Bobadils of the poet.”

I feel honored to know that in my mission of peace I have done something to mitigate the horrors of war; and though no call of duty has required me to “bare my bosom to bullets,” yet upon occasions, not exempt from danger, I have defied the utmost malice of the evil men whose pernicious doctrines have brought the dreadful calamities of civil war on our land. I have something to be “proud” of — a consciousness of sincere efforts, at least, to save my country, and that, while I deserve the respect of honest patriots, I have provoked the ridiculous enmity of such creatures as D. H. Hill.

You are supposed, General, to command the “Department of Pamlico,” or the whole of Eastern North-Carolina. Can you not condescend to pay me a visit? Come and see what inestimable blessings your peaceful secession has conferred on the peace-loving people of North-Carolina. Come! behold the scenes of your great military exploits.

A little more than a year ago you came to defend and protect North-Carolina. You had possession of Roanoke Island, Fort Macon, New-bern, Washington, and Hatteras. How are they now?

In the Falstaff imagination of your secession friends, every soldier under General Foster was transformed into live; the sea-coast is abandoned, and you are eating out the substance of “my people” in the interior.

Come, look at the counties of Currituck, Cam. den, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Chowan, Washington, Tyrrell, and Hyde. Think of this immense and rich territory — of their bright fields; how their valleys laughed with corn and wheat before your arrival; and now behold them, under the advice and rule of your demon associates, almost covered with blood and ashes.

Pardon me for giving you a word of advice — the last from me, as I leave immediately for my distant home. You have committed a great crime in your part in this horrid war. You commenced with perjury, and are trying to sustain yourself with impudence and falsehood. As a State rights village politician you were simply ridiculous. Do not attempt, like the frog in the fable, to swell to the size of the ox, by parading your insolence under the name of a “Major-General in the confederate States army.” You will soon be, in the eyes of all sensible people, utterly contemptible.

Yours, etc.,

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 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.
D. H. Hill (7)
E. Stanly (5)
George Washington (3)
Wm R. French (3)
Edward Stanly (2)
James R. Hill (2)
John G. Foster (2)
Jackson Arnold (2)
E. Bayard Webster (1)
Tyrrell (1)
George C. Saul (1)
Hyde (1)
Hatteras (1)
Doc (1)
Farewell Address (1)
Wirt Adams (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 27th, 1863 AD (1)
March 24th, 1863 AD (1)
24th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: