Civil War Overview
Civil War 1861
Civil War 1862
Civil War 1863
Civil War 1864
Civil War 1865
Civil War Battles
Robert E. Lee
Civil War Medicine
Civil War Links
Republic of Texas
Civil War Gifts
Robert E. Lee Portrait
OLD SOLDIER'S REWARD.
I SAW, beyond the years to be,
An old man bending low
Above a book—a history Of glory
and of woe;
His pale lips moved without a
He neither sighed nor smiled,
And one thin arm was twined
A sunny, silent child.
Page after page he read and
And many a pause made he, As if
the meaning was inurned
In some dim memory;
For though the deeds he read were
wrought By help of his right hand,
They came as slowly to his
thought As from the spirit land.
"My boy," he said at length,
"this page Must have been writ for me :
I just remember it; an age
Ago it seems to be.
'A sergeant took the flag and ran
A rod before his men :'
My boy, I was that very man;
I see it all again.
" And here : ' The horses all
And every man but one;
The grape-shot failed; he quickly
A gun with peeble stone,
And fired point-blank below the
Into the rebel line,
And thinned it so it turned and
My boy, that shot was mine.
"Again: ' They rushed through
mist and rain Up to the clear blue sky;
The wounded hushed their groans
of pain As 'twere a joy to die
So near to God !' I lay that
Beneath the stars that stood
High over Lookout's silent
Reflected in my blood.
"And here, and here: I never
thought My deeds would find a pen.
I only for my country fought
Along with other men:
It must have been because I took
No thought of history.
The generous man who wrote this
book Has put down much for me.
"The hills, my boy, are white
I feel the creeping cold; I hear
another bugle blow
Than that I heard of old.
It calls me, I must go—good-by!
The book has paid for all:" And
then he bowed without a sigh
And answered to the call.
SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1865.
SHERMAN'S TRUE VICTORY,
GENERAL SHERMAN marched from
Atlanta one of the leading rebel papers in
Richmond said that even if he pushed through to the coast it was of no
importance. He may succeed in traversing the State, it said, but it will be as
an arrow passes through the air, without wounding it or leaving a trace of its
In commenting upon this
statement, which was superficially true, we ventured to suggest that the moral
consequences of such a success had been entirely overlooked. Has it not proved
so ? When SHERMAN arrived at Savannah and occupied it, was there not a general
conviction that the rebellion had received a death-blow? He had not fought a
battle upon the way. The march was an agreeable journey. The fields were full.
The people did not oppose him. The climate was soft. There was nothing of war
but the military array. Yet from the moment the
national flag appeared over
Savannah the heart of the rebellion has been broken.
The reason is obvious. If there
are two wrestlers, and one suddenly ascertains that two steps behind his
opponent is a yawning gulf, and the opponent learns at the same moment that it
is known to his adversary, the contest is virtually over. The combatants seem to
stand as erect and sturdy as ever. But the conscious mind of one has relaxed his
muscles. His heart is conquered, and his hand succumbs. So the rebellion has
maintained a saucy front. "The South" was one man. " The South" was eager to die
in the last ditch. " The South" would gladly destroy its homes and property to
paralyze the Yankee invader. "The South" might be overrun, but would never be
conquered. So long as this was every where believed, it imparted a factitious
strength to the whole movement. It gave it that moral force which is the most
powerful of all auxiliaries.
And it is directly at that moral
force that SHERMAN'S campaign strikes. His smooth and unresisted march from
Atlanta to Savannah, from Savannah to
Columbia, undeceives the country, Europe,
and the rebels themselves. It has shown that they are not one man; that they are
not eager for the last ditch ; that they will not do to thwart the Yankees what
Holland did to thwart France ; that they will be overrun and then be conquered.
General LEE speaks of the universal despondency; when
JUDAH BENJAMIN says that there is very great
danger ; when DAVIS and HUNTER seek frantically to fire the Southern heart with
a wretched trick ; when every rebel paper confesses the universal gloom ; and
one of them, speaking for all, says, frankly : " The people are not whipped but
cowed. Their souls and not their hands are disarmed. Our strength is, not
sapped, but our courage is oozing out at the ends of our fingers;" and when Earl
RUSSELL suddenly discovers that he is not surprised that the Government of the
United States is irritated by raids from Canada and rams from English ports ; we
behold the moral victory of SHERMAN'S campaign : we see that his march was not
an arrow harmlessly piercing the air, but a needle forcing the fluid to
SHERMAN has exposed the mask and
the brag of the rebellion. Rebel gascons will boast, but he has taught us the
exact value of gasconade. "Let the foe meet resistance unto deaths !" shouts MEGRATH, the Governor of
South Carolina. " SHERMAN will find a lion in his path," says the Richmond
Examiner, "BEAUREGARD is in his front." "Long before Columbia falls," says the
Columbia Carolinian of February 12, " we look for a battle and a victory
commensurate in its consequences with the great interests now at stake, one
which will prove that God is fighting by our side, although with visor down,'
and that he has vouchsafed to Carolina the proud privilege of closing as she
began this war in triumph." Five days after ward Columbia was occupied by
SHERMAN. The lion BEAUREGARD stole away ; and the ludicrous newspaper, which
asked " what reason is there to anticipate an immediate advance upon Columbia :
we can recall none, to believe it is contrary to common sense," had no sooner
spoken than SHERMAN arrived.
The wretched bluster of the
rebellion is relentlessly ridiculed by General SHERMAN. The same Mobile Register
which now says that "the people [the rebels] are not whipped but cowed, their
souls but not their hands are disarmed," said four years ago : If the war lasts
five years the terms of peace will be dictated at the gates of Boston. But the
war will not last so long. The day is not far distant when the North will sue
for peace. Until it does the policy as well as the will of the South is to give
them war to their hearts' content, war to the knife and to the hilt." "White
slaves," said another of these pleasing sheets, "peddling wretches, small-change
knaves and vagrants, the dregs and offscourings of the populace these are the
levied forces whom
LINCOLN suddenly arrays as candidates for the honor of being
slaughtered by gentlemen such as Mobile sent to battle yesterday. Let them come
South and we will put our negroes to the dirty work of killing them. But they
will not come South. Not a wretch of them will live on this side of the border
longer than it will take us to reach the ground and drive them over." The
Charleston Mercury at the same time exclaimed: "The miserable fanatics and
charlatans at Washington are pursuing the very course of policy we most
earnestly desire them to pursue." The Charleston Mercury now says; "Our paper is
suspended with a view to its temporary removal to another point. This is
rendered necessary by the progress of military events."
In such a wild yell of contempt
for freemen this rebellion against a popular government began. By such
passionate falsehoods and appeals the mind of the Southern people was in flamed.
By such frenzied rhetoric they have been bewildered and stimulated since the
first shot was fired. The exposure of this enormous deceit is part of the true
victory of SHERMAN. He subdues the mind of the rebellious section by
enlightening it. The people of the South, sedulously kept in ignorance both of
the character and spirit of the people of the North by these miserable leaders,
will learn first to respect Northern valor and persistence, and then to estimate
and esteem Northern intelligence. They will learn that there is no
vindictiveness in the Northern heart ; that it is fixed only, but fixed
immutably and forever, upon Union and Liberty, and they will see that their own
happiness as well as the national glory are inseparable from that aim.
Charleston should fall was inevitable. That
Charleston should fall without a blow was inconceivable. The South Carolinians
have always boasted more of " honor" than any Americans. The Charlestonians
always accounted themselves the most chivalric of Carolinians. Do the rebel
chiefs who have dragged their fellow citizens into this insurrection mean to
leave us without any respect for their own consistency with their own foolish
code ? If there were any point of honor whatever in this wretched rebellion it
was the defense of the cradle of secession and treason. If there were any
possible last ditch it was the streets of Charleston. If we might expect to find
any where that passionate and heroic devotion of which we have heard for long
years the loud bluster, it was in the city where four years ago men and women of
every age crowded balconies, housetops, and windows to watch exulting traitors
firing upon the little garrison of Sumter, whose steady en-
durance typified that of the
nation that placed it there.
It was a strange scene on that
April day four years ago. The spectators cheered and wept for joy, and the merry
bells rang, when the flag of their country fell for the first time, shot down by
its own children. Did the spectators of that day remember it when at last that
flag returned triumphant? Over how much bitter agony, through what seas of
costly blood, across what blighted hopes and ruined lives it returned; but also
over the desolation of Carolinian homes which Carolina has wrought ; over the
wide waste of fortunes which Carolina has destroyed; over the treacherous
doctrine of State supremacy which Carolina has hugged snake like to her breast;
over the relics of slavery which Carolina has abolished. The old flag returns.
Peace, union, and prosperity are the benedictions it imparts. Those who see its
coming, those who have hated it as the symbol of equal rights and universal
justice and popular government, those who have fostered this huge monster of
rebellion until now it turns and rends them, may flout and refuse its blessings.
But the people whom they have fooled ; the people whom they have kept ignorant,
degraded, and prejudiced; the people of whose political rights that flag is the
symbol, will gradually hail it as benighted outcasts hail the dawn.
The fall of Charleston can bring
no exultation to any loyal citizen. It has been considered, indeed, the special
seat of rebellion. It has always been a nursery of treason. Its " society" has
been held to be peculiarly aristocratic. It has led Newport and Saratoga by the
nose. Its swagger has passed for elegance ; its insolence for ease. Men who were
not enough redeemed from barbarism to honor men as men, and who with the kings
of wild Africa sold human beings for money, were accounted " gentlemen" in
Broadway and in the shadow of Bunker Hill. But that illusion is long since
dissolved; and the ignoble fall of the little Corinth of their pride merely
shows how poor is their manhood who in this day and country despise men, and how
contemptible is the " chivalry" that will not die for what it calls its dearest
We shall hear, perhaps, from
Richmond, as we heard when
Atlanta, and Savannah fell, that it is of
no importance; that the rebellion is really stronger without Columbia and
Charleston. But if in its chief cities, in its territories, and in its
population, we are not to look for " the Confederacy," where shall we find it?
In the gloomy will of DAVIS; in the hollow rhetoric of BENJAMIN ; in the sharp
shrieks of the rebel press ; where else ?
MR. WILSON has introduced a bill
into the United States Senate recommending the preference in appointment to
civil office of honorably discharged soldiers and sailors who shall be found
competent ; and Mr. GLEASON has made a similar proposition in the State Senate
of New York. The report which accompanies Mr. WILSON'S bill states the prayer of
many petitions to be that the tenure of office may be for life or good behavior.
The wisdom of the selection of a
special class for preference in the public service may be fairly disputed. That
any class should be authorized to feel a right to office and a consequent right
to demand it may very easily prove to be a practical misfortune. It seems to us
that the true principle in the matter is the recognition of the equal claim of
all loyal citizens who are honest and competent. For it is hardly to be assumed
that all those who have been engaged in active service are more earnestly
patriotic than many and many who have not; and the tendency of such
discrimination is to a kind of jealousy which is always better avoided if
The feeling of respect and
sympathy for the soldiers and sailors from which the proposal springs is genuine
and honorable. It is, indeed, universal. The feeling of no nation toward its
army and navy was ever before what ours is; and for the plain reason that they
are in large part the nation itself volunteering. In every way the tender
solicitude of the country has been expressed, and it will continue to be so. And
this is so sure to be the case that the object of the recommendation or bill
would equally be attained without it, while the advantage derived by such an
expression by Congress of respect and gratitude to the army and navy is
destroyed by the mischief of an expression of Congressional preference for a
class. It is precisely one of those things which should be left to the sympathy
and good sense of the country. They may be fully trusted. The honorably
discharged soldier and sailor is as sure of substantial gratitude as the country
is of his substantial service.
The resolutions reported by the
Committee of the Senate do not recommend that the tenure of the office should be
life or good behavior. But that is a recommendation which we hope to see made in
regard to all ministerial offices, and enforced by law. The inconveniences and
perils of the national elections would be in large part removed, if every
department of the administration were not pulled up by the roots every four
years. The utter demoralization springing from our foolish whim of rotation in
office is known
to every man. The consequence of
the system is that the most practical of people renounce their common sense in
dealing with the most important affairs. No merchant would think of making a man
his book keeper because he was a clever blacksmith, nor intrust a momentous suit
at law to a good physician. If a successful trader wishes a captain for his
ship, he requires knowledge, seamanship, experience. If a gentleman hires a
gardener, he expects familiarity with plants, hot houses, and soils. No man
would employ a coachman who did not understand how to take charge of horses and
yet the same man would recommend an applicant to a public office who was as
unfit for it as a man who only speaks Chinese to teach an infant school in New
The money that would be saved to
the people; the greater ease and method and puntuality with which the public
work would be done ; the dangers that would disappear from elections ; the
deeper and more permanent repose which would be imparted to the national
character by a simple reform like this is incalculable.
Nor was there ever a more
favorable moment for beginning the change of system than this. The President has
been re-elected not by a party but by the country. The ordinary party reasons
for the disastrous custom do not exist. The holders of office are as good
friends of the policy of the Administration as those who ore not. And if the
only changes after the 4th of March should be those resulting from resignations,
from dishonesty, disloyalty, or incapacity, the country would have an additional
reason to honor the President and his policy.
FILL UP THE ARMY."
" HASTEN on recruiting to fill up
telegraphs Secretary STANTON to Governor FENTON, " and the rebellion
must receive the final blow in this spring's campaign."
This call, with the rebel General
LEE'S official wail against despondency, should be enough to give
the hundred thousand men for whom he asks to overthrow the military force of the
Indeed, to the least sanguine
observer the situation can not seem very unpromising. The whole Southwest is
paralyzed. SHERMAN is approaching North Carolina in his triumphant
circumnavigation of the rebellion, and LEE can not long remain absolutely
inactive in Richmond. The increase of the national army now is the sure end of
the matter. Whoever joins GRANT or SHERMAN helps to secure the speedy and final
victory. There must be thousands and thousands of active men who could not go
for a long war, but who can go for a campaign which crowns the great work. We
are not surprised to hear that enlistment was never mire active. The larger the
army the more hopeless will contention with it seem. JUDAH BENJAMIN, the rebel
Secretary of State, declares that all the white force of the rebel section is
exhausted. There is danger, great danger, he says, unless the slaves are armed.
Why should they not be exhausted
? Their very souls are fatigued with treacherous deceit. BENJAMIN and DAVIS, and
the rest, who now so desperately fan the expiring flame of ignorant exasperation
against the Government, have deluded the people of the Southern Sates into a war
in which they have been every where baffled. Every promise made to them has been
broken. Every hope which allured them has been disappointed. Every vision of
independence, of recognition, of prosperity, has faded utterly away. Like men
drugged with poisoned wine who have been seduced into enlisting, and who have
recovered to find themselves wretched, their families outcast, their homes
destroyed, so the people of the Southern States were inflamed with falsehoods
against the Government, the Union, and their Northern fellow citizens, and are
now awaking to discover how wantonly they have been deceived, and how terribly
they are paying the penalty.
The more fully they are released
from this thralldom the happier for us all; and the more rapidly the armies are
recruited the speedier will be the release. The rebel cause suffers, says the
Mobile Register, from a poverty of spirit to breast reverses and of fortitude to
endure trials. It confesses that all hearts are darkened with gloom. Whose fault
is it that they are so? That is a question which the rebel chiefs and rebel
editors may well tremble to hear asked.
THE order of General SHERMAN,
setting apart the sea-islands and a strip of coast for the freedmen, was sharply
criticised until the minutes of the interview between
Secretary STANTON, General
SHERMAN, and the leaders of the colored men were published, when it was found
that the General's order was the result of the best possible counsel.
General BUTLER, in criticising
SHERMAN'S order, repeats the well known remark of FREDERICK DOUGLASS, that the
colored men wish merely to be let alone. Mr. DOUGLASS means, of course, that
they shall be suffered to take their chance with other people. But certainly one
of the best ways of letting them alone, or suffering them to mind their own
affairs, is to as- (Next