« AnteriorContinuar »
FAITHLESSNESS AND PATRIOTISM.
in the midst of the remarkable table-lands near the junction of Live Oak Creek and the Pecos River. It is a place of much importance, for it protects the great ford of the Pecos, where nearly all the trains from Texas cross it, on their way to California. These are really mere military posts rather than forts, quite sufficient in strength, however, for the uses of the service in that region. The military power under Twiggs's control was ample, with the co-operation of the Union citizens, to hold the State firmly in a position of loyalty to the National Government, and to defy the ArchConspirator at Montgomery, who, before Texas had become a member of the "Confederacy," wrote, through his so-called Secretary of War, to the Texas Convention, that is, after a reasonable time, the United States Government should refuse to withdraw the troops, "all the powers of the Southern Confederacy should be used to expel them."
Colonel Waite found himself at once entangled in most serious embarrassments. In violation of the terms of Twiggs's treaty for surrender, adequate means of transportation for the troops in the interior were withheld; and officers born in Slave-labor States, such as Lieutenant Thornton Washington, Major Larkin Smith, and others, in whom he confided, betrayed their trusts in a most shameful manner, and joined the insurgents.
Captain Hill, who commanded Fort Brown, on the Rio Grande, opposite
Matamoras, refused to obey the order of Twiggs to evacuate it, and prepared to defend it. He soon found that he could not hold it with the small force under his command, and he was compelled to yield. The troops along the line of the Rio Grande soon left the country, but those in the interior, who made their way slowly toward the coast, became involved in great difficulties. Toward the middle of April, Major Earle Van Dorn, who was a favorite in the army of that department, appeared in Texas with the commission of a colonel, from Jefferson Davis. He was a native of Mississippi. He had abandoned his flag, and was now in the employment of its enemies. He was there to secure for the use of the insurgent army, by persuasion and glowing promises of great good to themselves, the remnant of the betrayed forces of the Republic, or to make them useless to their Government. Simultaneously with his appearance, the newspapers in the interest of the conspirators teemed with arguments to show that the National soldiers were absolved from their allegiance, because the "Union was dissolved;" and Van Dorn held out brilliant temptations to win them to his standard. His labor was vain.
CAPTURE OF MAJOR SIBLEY'S TROOPS.
They were too patriotic to be seduced, or even to listen patiently to his wicked overtures.
At about the time when Van Dorn appeared, seven companies of National troops, under Major Sibley, were at Indianola, on Matagorda Bay, preparing to embark on the Star of the West, which had been ruthlessly expelled from Charleston harbor in January. This vessel had been sent, with twenty thousand rations and other supplies, under convoy of the gunboat Mohawk, to bear away the troops. Supposing the vessel to be at the mouth of the harbor, Sibley embarked the troops on two small steam lighters, and proceeded down the bay. He had suspected treasonable designs concerning his command. His suspicions were confirmed by the absence of the Star of the West and its convoy, and he resolved to go on in the lighters to Tampico, in Mexico. A lack of provisions and coal compelled him to turn back. His troops were disembarked, and, on the following day, Lieutenant Whipple gave him proof of hostile designs against his troops, by reporting the existence of a small battery at Saluria, some distance down the bay. Whipple was ordered to capture it, but when he and his little party approached the place, the cannon were not there.
As speedily as possible, Major Sibley re-embarked his troops on two schooners, and these, towed by the steam lighters, proceeded toward the Gulf. Heavy easterly winds were sweeping the sea, and no pilots were to be seen. Darkness came on before they reached the entrance to the bay, and they anchored within it. There they lay a greater part of two days and two nights, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Star of the West and Mohack. At ten o'clock, when the darkness was profound, and the storm heavy, thick volumes of smoke were discerned above the schooners. At daylight three steamers lay near, with side-barricades of cotton-bales; and, a little later, a larger steamship than either of these, armed with heavy cannon, came over the bar and anchored near the schooners. The four vessels bore about fifteen hundred well-armed Texans, under Van Dorn. He sent commissioners to demand the surrender of the troops on the schooners. Sibley called a council of war. It was unanimously agreed that resistance to such a heavy
and active force would be madness, and Sibley surrendered." The April 24, spoils, besides the seven companies made prisoners of war, four hundred and fifty in number, were over three hundred fine rifles and the camp equipage of the whole party of captured troops. Many of these men wept because they had not an opportunity to fight, and threw their arms overboard. At about the same time, party of volunteers from Galveston boarded the Star of the West off Indianola, and cap› April 17. tured her, with all her stores."
⚫ April 23.
On the day preceding this surrender near Saluria, Colonel Waite, with his staff and all of the officers on duty at San Antonio, were made prisoners, under most aggravating circumstances. When Colonel Waite pointed to the plighted faith of the self-constituted Texan authorities with whom Twiggs had treated, and argued that the present act was in violation of a solemn covenant, he was given to understand that no arguments would be heard—that he and his officers were prisoners, and, if they were not quiet, physical force would be used to compel them to keep silence. One of the most insolent of these representatives of "authority
SURRENDER OF REESE'S TROOPS.
was a Major Maclin, of Arkansas, who until a short time before had held the office of paymaster in the Regular Army.
At this time, seven companies of the Eighth Regiment, three hundred and thirty-six strong, under Colonel Reese, were making their way from the interior, slowly and wearily, toward the coast, along El Paso Road. On reaching Middle Texas, Colonel Reese found all the supplies necessary for the subsistence of his troops in the hands of the insurgents; and at the ranche of Mr. Adams, near San Lucas Springs, twenty miles west from San Antonio, on the Castroville Road, he was confronted by Van Dorn, who had full fifteen hundred men and two splendid batteries of 12-pounders, one of them under Captain Edgar, the traitor who seized the Alamo.' Van Dorn sent Captains Wilcox and Major to demand an unconditional surrender. Reese refused, until he should be convinced that Van Dorn had a sufficient force to sustain his demand. Van Dorn allowed him to send an officer (Lieutenant Bliss) to observe the insurgent strength. The report convinced Reese that his force was greatly outnumbered, and he surrendered unconditionally, giving his word of honor that he would report at Van Dorn's camp, on the Leon, at six o'clock that evening.
The little column of Colonel Reese comprised all of the National troops remaining in Texas, and these were held close prisoners at San Antonio, whilst Colonel Waite and his fellow-captives, and Major Sibley's command, were paroled. The men were compelled to take an oath that they would not bear arms against the insurgents. Embarking soon afterward, they reached New York in safety, after a voyage of thirty days. Texas was now completely prostrated beneath the heel of that grinding and infernal despotism whose central force was at Montgomery; and that commonwealth, as we have already observed, soon became an important member of the revolutionary league called THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA."
After the adoption of the permanent Constitution at Montgomery, and the establishment of the so-called "Confederation," or plan of "permanent Federal Government," that Constitution was submitted to the revolutionary conventions of the several States named in the league, for ratification or rejection. The Convention of Alabamians, who reassembled on the 4th of March, ratified it on the 13th, by a vote of eighty-seven against five. That of Georgians reassembled on the 7th of March, and on the 16th ratified it by unanimous vote, saying that the State of Georgia acted "in its sovereign and independent character." That of Louisianians, which reassembled on the 4th of March, ratified the Constitution on the 21st of the same month, by a vote of one hundred and seven against seven. The South Carolina politicians reassembled their Convention on the 26th of March, and on the 3d day of April that assembly relinquished the boasted sovereignty of the State, by giving a vote of one hundred and forty against twenty-nine for the Constitution of the new "Confederacy." The Convention of Mississippians
1 See page 267.
* See the closing pages of Chapter VII.
3 R. Barnwell Rhett made strenuous opposition to the Constitution. On the 27th of March, he submitted an ordinance for consideration, which provided for the calling a Convention in South Carolina, in the event of a Free-labor State being admitted into the new Confederacy. And on the 2d of April, he offered a resolution that the Convention should expressly declare "that in ratifying and adopting the above Constitution, they suppose that it establishes a Confederacy of Slaveholding States; and this State does not consider herself bound VOL. I.-18
• March 26, 1861.
HOW THE "CONFEDERACY" WAS ESTABLISHED.
reassembled on the 25th of March. There were able men among them, who contended that the people and not that Convention should decide whether or not the new Constitution should be the supreme law of their land. These democratic ideas were scouted as heterodox, and the Convention proceeded to act as the embodied sovereignty of the State, by adopting the new plan of government by a vote of seventy-eight against seven." Such was the method by which a few arrogant politicians in seven of the States of the Union, usurping the rights and powers of the people, formed a league against the rightful and beneficent Government of that people, and in their name plunged their peaceful and highly prosperous country into a civil war unparalleled in the history of mankind in its extent, energy, and waste of life and treasure. The confiding, misled, and betrayed people had given them leave to meet in conventions, only to consider alleged grievances, and to deliberate upon the subject of their relations to the Union. From that time, the politicians acted as if there were no people to consult or to serve as if they, and they alone, constituted the State. Their constituents were never allowed to express their opinions by vote concerning the Ordinances of Secession, excepting in Texas, and the proceedings there were fraudulent and outrageous. And when seven of the revolutionary conventions, transcending the powers delegated to them by the people, appointed from among themselves commissioners to meet in General Convention at Montgomery, and that Convention assumed the right to found a new empire, the people were not only not consulted, and not allowed to express their views, by ballot, on a subject of such infinite gravity to themselves and their posterity, but, under the reign of a terrible military despotism, unequaled in rigor, lawlessness, and barbarity, they were not allowed to utter a dissenting word ever so privately, without danger of being relentlessly persecuted. Davis, the head of that despotism, had said (and his words applied equally to the people of the South, the North, and the world):-"Whoever opposes us, shall smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel."
While Jefferson Davis was on his way from his home in Mississippi to the city of Montgomery, near the Southern extremity of the Republic, there to be inaugurated leader of a band of conspirators and the chief minister of a despotism, Abraham Lincoln was journeying from his home in Springfield, Illinois, hundreds of miles farther north, on his way toward the National Capital, there to be installed in office as Chief Magistrate of a nation. The contrast in the characters and political relations of the two men was most remarkable. One was a usurper, prepared to uphold Wrong by violence and the exercise of the gravest crimes; the other was a modest servant of the people, appointed by them to execute their will, and anxious to uphold Right by the majesty and power of law and the exercise of virtue and justice.
Mr. Lincoln was an eminent representative American, and in his own career illustrated in a most conspicuous and distinguished manner the
to enter or continue in confederation with any State not tolerating the institution within its limits by fundamental law." Rhett and his friends seemed fully determined on revolutionary measures, if the new Confederacy did not act in accordance with their views. See Journal of the Conventions of the People of South Carolina, pages 199 and 229.
MR. LINCOLN'S DEPARTURE FOR WASHINGTON.
beneficent and elevating operations of republican government and republican institutions. He was born in comparative obscurity, in the State of Kentucky, early in the year 1809; and when he was inaugurated President, he had just passed his fifty-second birthday. His earlier years had been spent in hard labor with his hands on the farm, in the forest, and on the waters of the Mississippi. His later years had been equally laborious in the profession of the law, a knowledge of which he had acquired by painful study, in the midst of many difficulties. In that profession he had advanced rapidly to distinction, in the State of Illinois, wherein he had settled with his father in the year 1830. His fellow-citizens discovered in him the tokens of statesmanship, and they chose him to represent them in the National Congress. He served them and his country therein with great diligence and ability, and, as we have observed, his countrymen, in the autumn of 1860, chose him to fill the most exalted station in their gift. How he filled that station during the four terrible years of our history, while the Republic was ravaged by the dragon of civil war, will be recorded on succeeding pages.
On the 11th of February, Mr. Lincoln left his home in Springfield for the seat of the National Government, accompanied by a few friends. At the railway station, a large concourse of his fellow-townsmen had gathered to bid him adieu. He was deeply affected by this exhibition of kindness on the part of his friends and neighbors, and with a sense of the great responsibilities he was about to assume. "My friends," he said, when he was
about to leave, "no one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To
upon any other man since the days of Washington. He never would have succeeded, except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I cannot succeed without the same Divine aid which sustained him, and on the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support; and I hope you, my friends, will all pray that I may receive that Divine assistance without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain. Again I bid you farewell."
1 See page 34.
The following persons accompanied Mr. Lincoln :-J. G. Nicolay, private secretary of the President elect; John Hay; Robert L. Lincoln, Major Hunter, United States Army; Colonel Sumner, United States Army; Colonel E. E. Ellsworth, Hon. John K. Dubys, State Auditor; Colonel W. H. Lamon, Aid to Governor Yates; Judge David Davis, Hon. O. H. Browning, E. L. Baker, editor of the Springfield Journal; Robert Irwin, N. B. Judd, and George Lotham.
Before Mr. Lincoln left home, J. Young Scammon, member of the Legislature of Illinois, presented to