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Chapter 43:

  • Gen. Lee's surrender the decisive event of the war.
  • -- strength and situation of the Confederate forces South of Virginia. -- surrender of Johnston's army. -- Gen. Johnston's line of retreat from Raleigh. -- Sherman's pursuit. -- the conference at Durham Station. -- Sherman's “memorandum or basis of agreement.” -- he attempts an extraordinary game of hypocrisy. -- his astounding confessions at Washington. -- curious speech at a soldiers' festival. -- Sherman's convention with Johnston repudiated at Washington. -- Johnston compelled to surrender on the terms given Lee. -- review of the sections of Confederate defence. -- operations in the Southwest. -- capture of Mobile. -- Wilson's expedition. -- the expedition of Gen. Canby against Mobile and Central Alabama. -- statements of his force. -- the works and garrison of Mobile. -- siege of Spanish Fort. -- Gen. Maury orders its evacuation. -- capture of Fort Blakely. -- evacuation of Mobile. -- how Wilson's cavalry was to co-operate with Canby. -- disposition of the forces of Gens. Forrest and Roddy. -- capture of Selma, Montgomery and Columbus. -- the heroic episode of West point. -- Wilson advances upon Macon. -- news of Sherman's truce. -- surrender of all the Confederate forces in Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana. -- the Trans-Mississippi -- surrender of Gen. Smith. -- hope of prolonging the war West of the Mississippi River. -- the last calculation of “European recognition.” -- surrender of the Trans-Mississippi army to Gen. Canby. -- the downfall of the Confederacy complete. -- some reflections on the termination of the war. -- its flat conclusion. -- no grand catastrophe. -- explanation of this. -- theories, to account for the failure of the Confederacy. -- the vulgar argument of the numerical superiority of the North. -- how this argument is defective. -- the true basis of comparison between the military forces of North and South. -- the numerical inequality not sufficient to determine the war against the South. -- inconsistency of this argument on the part of Southern leaders. -- the relation of numbers to other elements of armed contest. -- what advantages the South had in the extent and features of her territory. -- General conclusion and an important reflection consequent upon it

The surrender of Gen. Lee was plainly the decisive event of the war, and drew after it rapid and important consequences. The situation in the Atlantic States south of Virginia, was weak; and that part of the Confederacy had been for some time thoroughly demoralized. The limits of Johnston's command included North and South Carolina, Georgia and [715] Florida; and the fate of this extensive military territory depended upon an army whose effective force was less than twenty thousand men. Gen. Johnston's statement of the force at his command in the vicinity of Raleigh, was 18,578 total, infantry and artillery present for duty, of which not more than 14,179 were effective, with a cavalry force little over five thousand. Florida was destitute of troops, and South Carolina was pretty much in the condition of a conquered province, there being no known Confederate force in it beyond a division of cavalry less than one thousand. Gen. Johnston found himself by the disaster in Virginia, opposed to a combined force of alarming magnitude; there was great difficulty in supplying his troops; the enemy had already captured all workshops within the Confederacy for the preparation of ammunition and repairing of arms; and thus embarrassed, crippled and disheartened, what was accounted in point of importance the second. army of the Confederacy, numbering on its rolls more than seventy thousand men, and yet reduced to less than one-third of this number by desertions and “absenteeism,” abandoned the hope of successful war, and prepared to surrender.

Surrender of Johnston's army.

On the night of the 13th April, Sherman's army had halted some fourteen miles from Raleigh, when it received the news of the surrender of Lee. The next day it occupied Raleigh; Gen. Johnston having taken up a line of retreat by the railroad running by Hillsboro, Greensboro, Salisbury and Charlotte. Sherman commenced pursuit by crossing the curve of that road in the direction of Ashboro, and Charlotte; and after the head of his column had crossed the Cape Fear River at Avens Ferry, he received a communication from Gen. Johnston on the 15th April, asking if some arrangement could not be effected, which should prevent the further useless effusion of blood. It was eventually arranged that a personal interview should take place between the two commanders at a designated point; and on the 18th April, they met at a farm-house, five miles from Durham Station, under a flag of truce. In proposing a surrender, Gen. Johnston wanted some more general concessions than had been made in the case of Gen Lee; and the result was a military convention, which Gen. Johnston declared that he signed “to spare the blood of his gallant little army, to prevent further suffering of the people by the devastation and ruin inevitable from the marches of invading armies, and to avoid the crime of waging a hopeless war.” This document, which we place here, was certainly an extraordinary one on Sherman's part. [716]

Memorandum, or basis of agreement, made this eighteenth day of April, A. D. 1865,

near Durham Station, in the State of North Carolina, by and between Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, commanding Confederate Army, and Maj.-Gen. W. T. Sherman, commanding Army of the United States, in North Carolina, both being present:

1. The contending armies now in the field to maintain the status quo, until notice is given by the commanding general of any one to its opponent, and reasonable time, say forty-eight hours, allowed.

2. The Confederate armies now in existence to be disbanded, and conducted to their several State capitals, therein to deposit their arms and public property in the State arsenal, and each officer and man to execute and file an agreement to cease from acts of war, and to abide the action of both State and Federal authorities. The number of arms and munitions of war to be reported to the chief of ordnance at Washington City, subject to the future action of the Congress of the United States, and in the meantime to be used solely to maintain peace and order within the borders of the States respectively.

3. The recognition by the Executive of the United States of the several State governments, on their officers and legislatures taking the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States; and where conflicting State governments have resulted from the war, the legitimacy of all shall be submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States.

4. The re-establishment of all Federal courts in the several States, with powers as defined by the Constitution and laws of Congress.

6. The people and inhabitants of all these States to be guarantied, so far as the Executive can, their political rights and franchises, as well as their rights of person and property, as defined by the Constitution of the United States and of the States respectively.

6. The Executive authority of the Government of the United States not to disturb any of the people by reason of the late war, so long as they live in peace and quiet and abstain from acts of armed hostility, and obey the laws in existence at the place of their residence.

7. In general terms, the war to cease — a general amnesty, so far as the Executive of the United States can command, on the condition of the disbandment of the Confederate armies, distribution of the arms, and the resumption of peaceable pursuits by the officers and men hitherto composing said armies.

Not being duly empowered by our respective principals to fulfil these terms, we individually and officially pledge ourselves to promptly obtain an answer thereto, and to carry out the above programme.

W. T. Herman, Major-General, Commanding Army U. S. in N. C. J. E. Johnston, General, Commanding C. S. A. in N. C.

There was much surprise on the part of the Southern people, that a man of Sherman's furious antecedents and incendiary record in the war, should exhibit such a spirit of liberality as contained in the above paper. But further developments explained the apparent contradiction, and showed that Sherman intended the paper only as a snare; that he was prepared to violate its spirit as soon as it was signed; that he had made up his mind to disregard the paroles he took, and to refuse to protect [717] them; and that he was performing a part of hypocrisy, the meanest it is possible to conceive. A few weeks after the conference at Durham Station, this man had the astounding hardihood to testify as follows before a committee of the Congress at Washington: “It then occurred to me that I might write off some general propositions, meaning little, or meaning much, according to the construction of parties-what I would term ‘glittering generalities ’ --and send them to Washington, which I could do in four days. I therefore drew up the Memorandum (which has been published to the world) for the purpose of referring it to the proper Executive authority of the United States, and enabling him to define to me what I might promise, simply to cover the pride of the Southern men, who thereby became subordinate to the laws of the United States, civil and military. If any concessions were made in those general terms, they were made because I then believed, and now believe, they would have delivered into the hands of the United States the absolute control of every Confederate officer and soldier, all their muster-rolls, and all their arms. 1 never designed to shelter a human being from any Liability incurred in consequence of past acts to the civil tribunals of our country, and I do not believe a fair and manly interpretation of my terms can so construe them, for the words,” United States courts, “” United States authorities, “” limitations of executive power, “occur in every paragraph. And if they seemingly yield terms better than the public would desire to be given to the Southern people, if studied closely and well, it will be found that there is an absolute submission on their part to the Government of the United States, either through its executive, legislative, or judicial authorities.”

It is almost impossible to find terms, within the decent vocabulary of history, to characterize the effrontery and self-complacency of this confession of a game of hypocrisy with a conquered honorable adversary, surrendering his arms with full faith in the promises of the conqueror But even this record of double-dealing was to be surpassed. The man who affected so much generosity at Durham Station, and signed the name of “W. T. Sherman, Major-General, &c.” to the Memorandum quoted above, took occasion, after the surrender of Lee and Johnston, to make the following speech at a soldiers' festival in the State of Ohio:--

When the rebels ventured their all in their efforts to destroy our Government, they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honours to their cause. The Government accepted their wager of battle. Hence, when we conquered, we, by conquest, gained all they had-their property became ours by conquest. Thus they lost their slaves, their mules, their horses, their cotton, their all; and even their lives and personal liberty, thrown by them into the issue, were theirs only by our forbearance and clemency. So, soldiers, when we marched through and conquered the country of the rebels, we became owners of all they had, and I don't want you to be troubled in your consciences for [718] taking, while on our great march, the property of conquered rebels. They forfeited their rights to it, and I, being agent for the Government to which I belonged, gave you authority to keep all the quartermasters couldn't take possession of or didn't want.

Such an example of astounding inconsistency, such a record of unblushing hypocrisy no public man could stand against for a day, except in that peculiar community of the North, where demagogueism and time-service are fair games, and “the smart man” gets the plaudits of the multitude, no matter in what line of conduct he asserts his ingenuity.

It may well be imagined that the truce of Durham Station was disregarded at Washington, and that no time was lost there in repudiating the propositions contained in Sherman's basis of agreement, which, in the extravagant language of that amateur diplomatist, was to restore “peace to the banks of the Rio Grande.” Of course, no plan could be entertained at Washington that substituted the simple idea of a restored Union for that of subjugation. The Federal Government, as is already apparent in these pages, was not likely to be satisfied with anything short of the abolition of slavery in the South, the extinction of the State governments, or their reduction to provisional establishments, and the programme of a general confiscation of property. Sherman was censured and denounced in a way that shook his factitious military reputation; and it was said to be the madness of generosity to abolish the confiscation laws, and relieve “rebels” from all pains and penalties for their crimes. It was at once telegraphed from Washington throughout the country, that Sherman's truce was disregarded, and that Grant would go to North Carolina to compel Johnston's surrender on the same terms as Gen. Lee had accepted. On this basis, the surrender was eventually made; but Gen. Grant was generous enough to forbear taking control of Sherman's army, contenting himself with prompting that commander to what the Washington Government had declared should be the text of the negotiations.

In following the logical chain of consequences of Gen. Lee's surrender, we are led to notice how each section of the Confederate defences gave way with this event. We have already seen how the cordon of the Atlantic States fell with Johnston's surrender; and we shall now see how the system of Confederate defence fell in the Southwest; and how, in a little time thereafter, the department of the Trans-Mississippi was prostrated, completing the downfall of the Southern Confederacy.

Operations in the Southwest-capture of Mobile-Wilson's expedition.

As part of the general design of the Federal arms in 1865, a movement was prepared early in that year against the city of Mobile and the [719] interiour of Alabama. When Hood's ill-fated army was beaten and driven across the Tennessee River, the troops which Gen. Canby had sent to aid Thomas were returned, and, being heavily reinforced, prepared to undertake, with assured success, the capture of the city of Mobile — an enterprise which had not yet been ventured upon, unless very remotely, by any Federal army.

The works of Mobile were very strong, and the supplies of food were abundant for a siege. The heavy ordnance was excellent and well disposed. But the garrison was few in number, and the supply of ammunition was small. Other important interests of the Confederacy would admit of no more troops, nor of more ammunition being placed in Mobile.

A large Federal army was soon collected on the waters near Mobile, with a very great naval force and a fleet of transports adequate to all the requirements of so great an expedition. Early in March, the preparations for attack seemed complete. But the weather was bad and unfavourable to operations. On the 25th March, Gen. Canby commenced to move his forces to the attack. Two corps of infantry, respectively commanded by Gens. Granger and A. J. Smith, (the whole commanded by Canby in person) marched from their camp on and near Fish River, against the positions occupied by Gen Maury at Spanish Fort and Blakely.

The same day, a corps of infantry, with a strong force of cavalry, moved, under command of Gen. Steele, from Pensacola towards Salem, via Pollard. The whole of Canby's forces now in motion may be estimated at near sixty thousand effectives, being three corps of infantry, and about six thousand cavalry.

The whole artillery and infantry effective force holding Mobile, under Gen. Maury's command, numbered less than eight thousand. His cavalry numbered less than fifteen hundred, and were not available in the siege operations.

On the 26th March, Canby appeared in heavy force before Spanish Fort, and commenced its siege. The same day, he threw a division as if against Fort Blakely, but did not yet take position for its siege. The position of Spanish Fort was about twelve miles from Mobile, on the eastern shore of Appalachie River, about two and a half miles above its mouth. The position was important as commanding the batteries, Huger and Tracey, which held the Appalachie River. The fortifications when the siege commenced, consisted of a battery on the water of six heavy guns and of three detached redoubts (open in the gorge) connected by a line of riflepits, with a line of abattis in front; the whole sweeping in a sort of semicircle, and resting both flanks on the river. The whole length of coast was about a mile and a half. Gen. Randall Gibson, of Louisiana, commanded the forces and conducted the defence of Spanish Fort. The garrison of Spanish Fort was made up of the veteran Louisiana brigade of Gibson, [720] (five hundred muskets), the veteran Alabama brigade, of Holtzclaw, (seven hundred muskets), and a brigade of Alabama boys under Brig.-Gen. Thomas, numbering about nine hundred effectives. There were besides, several companies of the Twenty-second Louisiana heavy artillery, and three companies of light artillery. Soon after the siege commenced, the brigade of boy-reserves was exchanged for Eaton's Texans and North Carolinians, which numbered only about five hundred muskets, and which made the whole infantry force about seventeen hundred muskets.

The enemy pressed his siege energetically, but cautiously. The defence was vigourous, bold and defiant. The little garrison, when manning their works, as they did incessantly for sixteen days and nights, stood in single rank, and several feet apart. The experience of defence soon showed that many things were lacking; but the troops vigourously applied themselves to remedy the defects, and in a few nights had constructed traverses and bomb-proofs, and chevaux-de-frise and rifle-pits, which proved amply sufficient for all their subsequent requirements. By energetic digging, the enemy managed to advance to within one hundred yards of portions of the main line of defence. He continually increased his batteries. He finally opened at close range, with a great number of wooden mortars; and a] though, in the early part of the operations, the skill and energy of Slocum's and Massenberg's, and Potter's artillerists could always silence the enemy's guns, they were quite ineffective now, and towards the close, every gun of the Confederates was easily silenced.

On the 8th April, Gen. Maury, after conference with Gen. Gibson, decided that the defence had been protracted long enough, and gave orders to commence that night to remove the surplus material, and stores, and men, so that by the night of the 11th, the whole force should be withdrawn. Early in the night of the 8th, the enemy made a forward movement on Gibson's left flank and established himself in such a position as would cut off further communications by the river with Mobile, and imperil the garrison. In pursuance of his general instructions, Gibson withdrew his garrison at once, and evacuated the position of Spanish Fort, necessarily leaving his guns and stores to the enemy. The garrison was immediately transferred to the city of Mobile, which, it was judged, would be soon attacked. Col. Patton transferred his headquarters to Battery Huger, upon which, and Tracey, would depend the defence of the Appalachie River.

On the 31st March, Steele, who had marched with his corps from Pensacola, had dispersed the cavalry force, which, under Clauton, opposed his advance at Pine Barren Creek, and occupied Pollard; and now suddenly appeared before Blakely and commenced to besiege it.

Gen. St. John Liddell, of Louisiana, commanded the forces at Blakely, which consisted of about 2,300 muskets, and three or four companies of [721] artillery — in all about 2,600 effectives. The ground was better for defence than at Spanish Fort. The works were better placed; and it was believed that the enemy would make but slow progress in its siege. The garrison consisted of the Missouri brigade, about four hundred and fifty muskets, under Gates; a Mississippi brigade, eight hundred muskets; the brigade of Alabama boy-reserves, under Thomas, nine hundred muskets; a regiment of Mississippi dismounted light artillerists armed with muskets, and several companies of artillery.

Very little progress had been made in the siege of Blakely, when Spanish Fort was evacuated on the 8th April. During the following day, however, Canby was sending up his army from about Spanish Fort towards Blakely; and in the evening, at five o'clock, he made a grand assault with a column of twenty-five thousand infantry. After being repulsed on many parts of the line, he succeeded in overwhelming the little garrison, and capturing it with the position.

Gen. Maury found his force now reduced to less than five thousand effective infantry and artillery; his ammunition almost exhausted; and the city of Mobile, with its population of more than thirty thousand non-combatants, exposed to the danger of assault and sack, by an army of more than fifty thousand men, ten thousand of whom were negroes. His instructions from his superiour officer were to save his garrison, and evacuate the city whenever he should find that judicious defence could no longer be made, and that an opportunity of withdrawing the garrison was still open to him.

On the night of the fall of Blakely, he resolved to evacuate Mobile, and save his army. On the morning of the 10th, the operations of the evacuation commenced. Many steamers were in the port prepared for this contingency; upon them were hastily thrown such ordnance stores as remained fit for troops in the field, all of the light guns, and the best of the quartermaster's and commissary stores. The garrisons of the redoubts and batteries about the city were also embarked on these steamers, and sent up the Tombigbee river to Demopolis. The infantry forces accompanied the wagon train by the dirt road to Mendina or were sent up on the cars. The large depots of commissary stores were turned over to the mayor of Mobile, for the use of the people of the city.

In the morning of the 12th April, the evacuation was completed. Gen. Maury, with his staff, and the rear-guard of three hundred Louisianians, under Col. Lindsay, moved out of the city at daylight. Gen. Gibson remained to see to the execution of the orders, relative to the drawing in of the cavalry force of Col. Spence, which was to burn the cotton in the city, and then cover the rear of the army. After having seen to the execution of every order, Gen. Gibson directed the Mayor of the city to go out to the fleet with a white flag, and apprise the Federal authorities that Mobile [722] had been entirely evacuated by the Confederate forces, and that no resistance would be offered to the enemy's entrance into the city. About two o'clock in the afternoon, Gen. Canby with his forces, marched into Mobile, and peaceably occupied it.

The Federal navy took but little part in the operations. Two monitors were sunk by torpedoes in an attempt to cross Appalachie Bar, when the fleet desisted from further action. During the progress of the evacuation, the little isolated garrisons of Tracey and Huger, under Col. Patton's command, restrained and returned with great effect the heavy fire of the enemy's batteries on the eastern shore. Here was fired the last cannon for the Confederacy in the war.

Whilst the operations against Mobile were in progress, a heavy movement of Federal cavalry was completing the plan of subjugation in the Southwest. An expedition, consisting of twelve thousand five hundred men, was placed under command of Gen. Wilson, who had been detailed from Thomas' army, and directed to make a demonstration, from Eastport, at the head of steamboat navigation on the Tennessee River upon Tuscaloosa and Selma, in favour of Canby's operations against Mobile and Central Alabama.

On the 22d March, all the arrangements having been perfected, and the order of march designated, the movement began. At this time Gen. Forrest's forces were near West Point, Mississippi, one hundred and fifty miles southwest of Eastport, while Gen. Roddy occupied Montevallo, on the Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad, nearly the same distance to the southeast. By starting on diverging roads, Wilson expected tho leave the Confederates in doubt as to his real object, and compel their small bodies of cavalry to watch equally Columbus, Tuscaloosa and Selma.

The enemy in full strength approached Selma on the 2d April. Gen. Forrest, after an affair with his advance near Ebenezer Church, had fallen back to Selma. He had developed Wilson's force, and knew that he would not be able to save the city with the limited force under his command; but he determined to discharge what he considered to be his duty, and to make the best fight he could under the circumstances. The line of works was about four miles long. It was held by not more than three thousand men in all; fully one-half of whom were undrilled, untrained militia, with old-fashioned muskets in their hands, and so strung out over the ground they had to defend, that they were from five to ten feet apart. Skirmishing commenced in front of the works about noon. About four or five o'clock; a charge was made against that part of the line near the point where the Selma and Meridian Railroad crossed the works, and which was held by a Kentucky brigade, under the command of Gen. Buford. After an obstinate fight, the position was carried; the enemy came into possession of one of the most important depots in the southwest; and having occupied [723] Selma, destroyed the arsenals, foundries, arms, stores and military munitions of every kind. Gen. Forrest escaped with a portion of his command. Having captured Selma, and communicated with Gen. Canby, Wilson determined to move by the way of Montgomery into Georgia, and after breaking up railroads, and destroying stores and army supplies, in that State, to march thence as rapidly as possible to the theatre of operations in North Carolina and Virginia. On the 12th April, his advance guard reached Montgomery and received the surrender of the city. Thence a force marched direct on Columbus, and another on West Point. Both of these places were assaulted and captured on the 16th; but at West Point, there was an episode of desperate Confederate valour in the dreary story of a country overrun almost without resistance.

Gen. R. C. Tyler, with an obstinate heroism, unsurpassed during the war, determined to hold West Point, with less than three hundred men. He believed the maintenance of his post, and the delay of the opposing forces from crossing the Chattahoochie at that point, an essential aid to the defence of Columbus; and although his garrison was a feeble one, improvised, for the most part, from the citizens, he did not hesitate a moment in what he regarded the duty of a soldier, to hold his post at whatever sacrifice, to the last extremity. It was a hopeless defence, except for the purposes of delaying the enemy; and it was protracted until the brave and devoted commander had fallen dead with his sword in his hand.

This memorable defence of West Point was made in a small work--Fort Tyler--about half a mile from the centre of the town. Firing continuously with large cannon and rifles, the enemy slowly and cautiously approached the gallant little band of heroes until within about twenty steps of them. Then, with loud yells, they attempted to scale the works, but were repulsed and held at bay until all the ammunition in the fort had been exhausted; and then, when the Federals were in the ditch around the fort, the brave and gallant men inside of it, hurled stones, and even their unbayonetted guns, upon them. The Confederate flag was never hauled down, until by the Federals, nor any white flag hoisted until the enemy had leaped the parapet.

In referring to the affair of West Point, a Southern newspaper that yet dared to speak its mind, said: “A more gallant instance of devotion has never been known since the time of Charles, King of Sweden, when he, with his body-guard and a few house servants, in the heart of the enemy's country, defended himself against an entire army of Turks, until his place of retreat was burned to the ground by lighted arrows from the assaulting party.”

On the 21st, Wilson, having united his forces, approached Macon, which was defended by Gen. Howell Cobb, with a small force, mostly [724] militia. Within thirteen miles of the town, he was met by a flag of truce bearing the following communication:

Headquarters Department of Tennessee and Georgia, Macon, April 20, 1865.
To the Commanding General of the United States Forces:
General: I have just received from Gen. G. T. Beauregard, my immediate commander, a telegraphic dispatch of which the following is a copy:

Greensboroa, April 19, 1865. Via Columbia April 19th, via Augusta April 20th.
Maj.-Gen. H. Cobb:
Inform General commanding enemy's forces in your front, that a truce for the purpose of a final settlement was agreed upon yesterday between Gens. Johnston and Sherman applicable to all forces under their commands. A message to that effect from Gen. Sherman will be sent him as soon as practicable. The contending forces are to occupy their present position, forty-eight hours notice being given of a resumption of hostilities.

G. T. Beauregard, General Second in Command.

My force being a portion of Gen. Johnston's command, I proceed at once to execute the terms of the armistice, and have accordingly issued orders for the carrying out the same. I will meet you at any intermediate point between our respective lines, for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements for a more perfect enforcement of the armistice. This communication will be handed to you by Brig.-Gen. F. H. Robinson.

I am, General, very respectfully yours, Howell Cobb, Major-General Commanding, etc.

This notice led to a correspondence, not necessary to be included here, and was ultimately followed by the final capitulation of the Confederate forces east of the Chattahoochie. The destruction of iron-works, foundries, arsenals, supplies, ammunition, and provisions in Alabama and Georgia was irreparable; the Confederacy east of the Mississippi was evidently in a state of collapse; and — the news of Johnston's surrender having traversed the country-Gen. Dick Taylor, on the 4th May, surrendered to Gen. Canby “the forces, munitions of war, etc., in the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.” The terms of surrender were essentially the same as those accorded to Lee and Johnston: officers and men to be paroled until duly exchanged or otherwise released by the United States; officers to give their individual paroles; commanders of regiments and companies to sign paroles for their men; arms and munitions to be given up to the United States; officers and men to be allowed to return to their homes, and not to be molested so long as they kept their paroles and obeyed the laws where they resided, but persons resident in Northern States not to return without permission; officers to be allowed to retain their side-arms, private horses, and baggage; horses, the private property of enlisted men, not to be taken from them, but they be allowed [725] to retain them for private purposes only. Thus, in the first days of May, all of the Confederate forces east of the Mississippi River had been surrendered.

The Trans-Mississippi-surrender of Gen. Smith.

Although since the loss of Vicksburg, and with it the Confederate control of the Mississippi River, what was known as the Trans-Mississippi, had been to a great extent isolated, and but little able to contribute effectively to the Confederate cause, yet men remembered that it was a country of vast resources; and a general notion had long prevailed at Richmond that in the last extremity of fortune the Confederacy might here find a refuge. Even after the sum of disasters just narrated, it was hoped that the Trans-Mississippi would hold out, and the struggle be protracted until European interference might possibly occur to the relief of the Southern people; for throughout the war they had persisted in the belief that England and France had withheld recognition of the Confederacy only on the assumption that it would certainly accomplish its independence without involving them, and the conclusion was fair that on the failure of this assumption they would not hesitate to act.

In a general order of Gen. Kirby Smith, issued at Shreveport, on the news of the surrender of Lee, he declared to the Confederate troops of the Trans-Mississippi that if they held out, they would speedily and surely receive the aid of nations who already deeply sympathized with them. He added: “The great resources of the department, its vast extent, the numbers, discipline, and the efficiency of the army, will secure to our country terms that a proud people can with honour accept, and may, under the providence of God, be the means of checking the triumph of our enemy, and securing the final success of our cause.”

But the last hope of the Confederacy was quickly to expire. To the lively and sanguine address of Gen. Smith there was but little response in the public mind. When the full extent of the disasters east of the Mississippi River was known; when the news came that a force of the enemy under Sheridan, had been put in motion for Texas; and when in the face of these announcements it was perceived that nothing but straggling reinforcements could be expected from the other side of the Mississippi, the consequence was that such demoralization ensued in Gen. Smith's army, and extended to the people of Texas, that; that commander concluded to negotiate terms of surrender. On the 26th 1May, and before the arrival of Sheridan's forces, he surrendered what remained of his command to Gen. Canby. The last action of the war had been a skirmish near Brazos, [726] in Texas. With the surrender of Gen. Smith the war ended, and from the Potomac to the Rio Grande there was no longer an armed soldier to resist the authority of the United States.

Most of the wars memorable in history have terminated with some momentous and splendid crisis of arms. Generally some large decisive battle closes the contest; a grand catastrophe mounts the stage; a great scene illuminates the last act of the tragedy. It was not so with the war of the Confederates. And yet there had been every reason to anticipate a dramatic termination of the contest. A war had been fought for four years; its scale of magnitude was unprecedented in modern times; its operations had extended from the silver thread of the Potomac to the black boundaries of the western deserts; its track of blood reached four thousands of miles; the ground of Virginia had been kneaded with human flesh; its monuments of carnage, its spectacles of desolation, its altars of sacrifice stood from the wheat-fields of Pennsylvania to the vales of New Mexico. It is true that the armies of the Confederacy had been dreadfully depleted by desertions; but in the winter of 1864-5, the belligerent republic had yet more than a hundred thousand men in arms east of the Mississippi River. It was generally supposed in Richmond that if the Confederate cause was ever lost it would be only when this force had been massed, and a decisive field fixed for a grand, multitudinous battle. This idea had run through the whole period of the war; it was impossible in Richmond to imagine the close of the contest without an imposing and splendid catastrophe. In the very commencement of the war, when troops were gaily marching to the first line of battle in Virginia, President Davis had made an address in the camps at Rockett's, declaring that whatever misfortunes might befall the Confederate arms, they would rally for a final and desperate contest, to pluck victory at last. He said to the famous Hampton Legion: “When the last line of bayonets is levelled, I will be with you.”

How far fell the facts below these dramatic anticipations! The contest decisive of the tenure of Richmond and the fate of the Confederacy was scarcely more than what may be termed an “affair,” with reference to the extent of its casualties, and at other periods of the war its list of killed and wounded would not have come up to the dignity of a battle in the estimation of the newspapers. Gen. Lee's entire loss in killed and wounded, in the series of engagements that uncovered Richmond and put him on his final retreat, did not exceed two thousand men. The loss of two thousand men decided the fate of the Southern Confederacy! The sequence was surrender from the Potomac to the Rio Grande. The whole fabric of Confederate defence tumbled down at a stroke of arms that did [727] not amount to a battle. There was no last great convulsion, such as usually marks the final struggles of a people's devotion or the expiring hours of their desperation. The word “surrender” travelled from Virginia to Texas. A four years contest terminated with the smallest incident of blood-shed; it lapsed; it passed by a rapid and easy transition into a profound and abject submission.

There must be some explanation of this flat conclusion of the war. It is easily found. Such a condition could only take place in a thorough demoralization of the armies and people of the Confederacy; there must have been a general decay of public spirit, a general rottenness of public affairs when a great war was thus terminated, and a contest was abandoned so short of positive defeat, and so far from the historical necessity of subjugation.

There has been a very superficial, and, to some people, a very pleasant way of accounting for the downfall of the Southern Confederacy, by simply ascribing it to the great superiourity of the North in numbers and resources. This argument has had a great career in the newspapers and in small publications; and the vulgar mind is easily imposed upon by the statistical parallel and the arithmetical statement, inclined as it is to limit its comprehension of great historical problems to mere material views of the question. We shall give this argument the benefit of all it contains, and state it in its full force. Thus, it is correctly said that official reports in Washington show that there were called into the Federal service from the Northern States 2,656,553 men during the war, and that this number is quite one-third as many as all the white men, women, and children of the Southern States. Again, the figures in the War Department at Washington show that on the 1st of May, 1865, the military force of the North was 1,000,516 men of all arms; while the paroles taken in the Confederacy officially and conclusively show that the whole number of men within its limits under arms was exactly 174,223. Thus, it is said, putting the number 1,000,516 against 174,223, and taking into account the superiourity of the North in war materiel, there is sufficient reason for the failure of the Confederate cause without looking for another.

This explanation of failure is of course agreeable to the Southern people. But the historical judgment rejects it, discovers the fallacy, and will not refuse to point it out. It is simply to be observed that the disparity of military force, as between North and South stated above, is not the natural one; and that the fact of only 174,223 Confederates being under arms in the last period of the war was the result of mal-administration, the defective execution of the conscription law, the decay of the volunteer spirit, the unpopularity of the war, and that these are the causes which lie beyond this arithmetical inequality, which, in fact, produced the greater part of it, and which must be held responsible in the explanation. The [728] fallacy consists in taking the very results of Confederate mal-administration, and putting them in comparison against a full exhibition of Northern power in the war.

The only just basis of comparison between the military forces of North and South is to be found in a careful parallel statement of the populations. This excludes all question of administration and political skill. Fortunately we have precise data for the estimate we propose. If we add to the Free States the four Slave States that followed their lead, under more or less compulsion, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky, and to these the districts at Federal command from an early period of the war, say half of Tennessee and Louisiana and a third of Virginia, we have a population, by the census of 1860, of 23,485,722 on the Federal side. This leaves under the rule of the Confederacy 7,662,325. There is no doubt that this superiourity of the North in numbers had great weight; that it contributed much to the discomfiture of the Confederacy; that it must be taken largely into any explanation of the results of the war-but the great question, at last, remains, was this numerical inequality, of itself, sufficient to determine the war in favour of the North, considering the great compensation which the South had in superiour animation, in the circumstance of fighting on the defensive, and, above all, in the great extent of her territory. We fear that the lessons and examples of history are to the contrary, and we search in vain for one instance where a country of such extent as the Confederacy has been so thoroughly subdued by any amount of military force, unless where popular demoralization has supervened. If war was a contest on an open plain, where military forces fight a duel, of course that inferiour in numbers must go under. But war is an intricate game, and there are elements in it far more decisive than that of numbers. At the beginning of the war in America all intelligent men in the world and the Southern leaders themselves knew the disparity of population and consequently of military force as between the North and South; but they did not on that account determine that the defeat of the South was a foregone conclusion, and the argument comes with a bad grace from leaders of the Confederacy to ascribe now its failure to what stared them in the face at the commencement of the contest, and was then so lightly and even insolently dismissed from their calculation. The judgment of men who reflected, was that the South would be ultimately the victor, mainly because it was impossible to conquer space; that her subjection was a “geographical impossibility;” that three millions of men could not garrison her territory; that a country so vast and of such peculiar features — not open as the European countries, and traversed everywhere by practicable roads, but wild and difficult with river, mountain, and swamp, equivalent to successive lines of military fortifications, welted, as it were, with natural mounds and barriers-could never be brought under [729] subjection to the military power of the North. And these views were severely just; they are true forever, now as formerly; but they proceeded on the supposition that the morale of the Confederacy would be preserved, and when the hypothesis fell (mainly through mal-administration in Richmond) the argument fell with it.

There is but one conclusion that remains for the dispassionate student of history. Whatever may be the partial explanations of the downfall of the Southern Confederacy, and whatever may be the various excuses that passion and false pride, and flattery of demagogues, may offer, the great and melancholy fact remains that the Confederates, with an abler Government and more resolute spirit, might have accomplished their independence.

This reflection irresistibly couples another. Civil wars, like private quarrels, are likely to repeat themselves, where the unsuccessful party has lost the contest only through accident or inadvertence. The Confederates have gone out of this war, with the proud, secret, deathless, dangerous consciousness that they are the better men, and that there was nothing wanting but a change in a set of circumstances and a firmer resolve to make them the victors. To deal with such a sentiment, to keep it whipped, to restrain it from a new experiment requires the highest efforts of intellect, the most delicate offices of magnanimity and kindness, and is the great task which the war has left to American statesmanship. Would it be strange, in a broad view of history, that the North, pursuing a policy contrary to what we have indicated, and venturing upon new exasperation and defiance, should realize that the South has abandoned the contest of the last four years, merely to resume it in a wider arena, and on a larger issue, and in a change of circumstances wherein may be asserted the profit of experience, and raised a new standard of Hope! 1

1 The lapse of twelve pages after 729 is accounted for by the omission to number the steel plate pages in their order. See list of Illustrations.

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