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DELIVERED MAY 2, 18G4.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America: Yoi' are assembled under circumstances of deep interest to your country ; and it is fortunate that, coming as you do, newly elected by the people, and familiar with the condition of the various localities, you will he better able to devise measures adapted to meet the wants of the public service without imposing unnecessary burdens on the citizen. The brief period which has elapsed since the last adjournment of Congress has not afforded sufficient opportunity to test the efficacy of the most important laws then enacted, nor have the events occurring in the interval been such as materially to change the state of the country.
The unjust war commenced against us, in violation of the rights of the States, and in usurpation of power not delegated to the government of the United States, is still characterized by the barbarism with which it has heretofore been conducted by the enemy. Aged men, helpless women and children, appeal in vain to the humanity which should be inspired by their condition, for immunity from arrest, incarceration, or banishment from their homes. Plunder and devastation of the property of non-combatants, destruction of private dwellings, and even of edifices devoted to the worship of God, expeditions organized for the sole purpose of sacking cities, consigning them to the flames, killing the unarmed inhabitants, and inflicting horrible outrages on women and children, are some of the constantly recurring atrocities of the invader. It cannot reasonably be pretended that such acts conduce to any end which their authors dare avow before the civilized world, and sooner or later Christendom must mete out to them the condemnation which such brutality deserves. The sufferings thus ruthlessly inflicted upon the people of the invaded districts have served but to illustrate their patriotism. Entire unanimity and zeal for their country's cause have been preeminently conspicuous among those whose sacrifices have been greatest. So the army which has borne the trials and dangers of the war, which has been subjected to privations and disappointments, (tests of manly fortitude far more severe than the brief fatigues and perils of actual combat,) has been the centre of cheerfulness and hope. From the camp comes the voice of the soldier-patriot, invoking each who is at home, in the sphere he best may fill, to devote his whole energies to the support of a cause, in the success of which their confidence has never faltered. They, the veterans of many a hard-fought field, tender to their country, without limit of time, a service of priceless value to us, one which posterity will hold in grateful remembrance.
In considering the state of the country, the reflection is naturally suggested that this is the
Third Congress of the Confederate States of America. The provisional government was formed, its congress held four sessions, lived its appointed term, and passed away. The permanent government was then organized, its different departments established, a Congress elected, which also held four sessions, served its full constitutional term, and expired. You, the second Congress under the permanent government, are now assembled at the time and place appointed by law for commencing your session. All these events have passed into history, notwithstanding the threat of our prompt subjugation, made three years ago, by a people that presume to assert a title to govern States whose separate and independent sovereignty was recognized by treaty with Franco and Great Britain in the last century, and remained unquestioned for nearly three generations. Yet these very governments, in disregard of duty and treaty obligations, which bind them to recognize as independent Virginia and other confederate States, persist in countenancing, by moral influence, if not in aiding by unfair and partial action, tho claim set up by the executive of a foreign government to exercise despotic sway over the States thus recognized, and treat the invasion of them by their former limited and special agent as though it were the attempt of a sovereign to suppress a rebellion against lawful authority. Ungenerous advantage has been taken of our present condition, and our rights have been violated, our vessels of war detained in ports in which they had been invited by proclamations of neutrality, and in one instance our flag also insulted where the sacred right of asylum was supposed to be secure; while one of these governments has contented itself with simply deprecating, by deferential representations, the conduct of our enemy in the constantly recurring instances of his contemptuous disregard of neutral rights and flagrant violations of public law. It may be that foreign governments, like our enemies, have mistaken our desire of peace, unreservedly expressed, for evidence of exhaustion, and have thence inferred the probability of success in the efforts to subjugate or exterminate tho millions of human beings who, in these States, prefer any fate to submission to their savage assailants.
I see no prospect of an early change in the course heretofore pursued by these governments; but when this delusion shall have been dispelled, and when our independence, by the valor and fortitude of our people, shall have been won against all the hostile influences combined against us, and can no longer be ignored by open foes or professed neutrals, this war will have left, with its proud memories, a record of many wrongs, which it may not misbecome us to forgive—some for which we may not properly forbear from demanding redress. In the mean time, it is enough for us to know that every avenue of negotiation is closed against us; that our enemy is making renewed and strenuous efforts for our destruction, and that the sole resource for us, as a people secure in the justice of our cause, and holding our liberties to be more precious than all other earthly possessions, is to combine and apply every available element of power for their defence and preservation.
On the subject of the exchange of prisoners, I greatly regret to be unable to give you satisfactory information. The Government of the United States, while persisting in failure to execute the terms of the cartel, make occasional deliveries of prisoners, and then suspend action without apparent cause. I confess my inability to comprehend their policy or purpose. The prisoners held by us, in spite of human care, are perishing from the inevitable effects of imprisonment and the home-sickness produced by the hopelessness of release from confinement The spectacle of their suffering augments our longing desire to relieve from similar trials our own brave men, who have spent so many weary months in a cruel and useless imprisonment, endured with heroic constancy. The delivery, after a suspension of some weeks, has just been resumed by the enemy; but as they give no assurance of intent to carry out the cartel, an interruption of the exchange may recur at any moment
The reports of the departments, herewith submitted, are referred to for full information in relation to the matters appertaining to each. There arc two of them on which I deem it necessary to make special remark.
The report of the Secretary of the Treasury states facts justifying the conclusion that the law passed at the last session for the purpose of withdrawing from circulation the large excess of Treasury notes heretofore issued, has had the desired effect, and that by the first of July the amount in circulation will have been reduced to a sum not exceeding two hundred and thirty million dollars. It is believed to be of primary importance that no further issue of notes should take place, and that the use of the credit of the government should be restricted to the two other modes provided by Congress, namely, the sale of bonds and the issue of certificates bearing interest, for the price of supplies purchased within our limits. The law, as it now stands, authorizes the issue by the Treasury of new notes to the extent of two thirds of the amount received under its provisions. The estimate of the amount funded unilcr this law is shown to be three hundred million dollars, and if two thirds of this sum be reissued, we shall have an addition of two hundred million dollars to our circulation, believed to already ample for the business of the country. The addition of this large sum to the volume of the currency would be attended by disastrous efforts, and would produce the speedy recurrence of the evils from which the funding law has rescued the country. If our arms are crowned with the success which we have so much reason to hope, we may well expect that this war cannot be prolonged beyond the current year, and nothing would so much retard the beneficent influence of peace on all the interests of our country, as the existence of a great mass of currency not redeemable in coin. With our
vast resources, the circulation, if restricted to its present volume, would be easily manageable, and by gradual absorption in payment of public dues would give place to the precious metals, the only basis of a currency adapted to commerce with foreign countries. In our present circumstances I know of no mode of providing for the public wants which would entail sacrifices so great as a fresh issue of Treasury notes, and I trust that you will concur in the propriety of absolutely forbidding any increase of those now in circulation.
Officers have been appointed and despatched to the trans-Mississippi States, and the necessary measures tiken for the execution of the laws, enacted to obviate delays in administering the treasury and other executive departments in those States ; but sufficient time has not elapsed to ascertain the results.
In relation to the most important of all subjects at the present time—the efficiency of our armies in the field—it is gratifying to assure you that the discipline and instruction of the troops have kept pace with the improvement in material and equipment. We have reason to congratulate ourselves on the results of the legislation on this subject, and on the increased administrative energy in the different bureaux of the War Department, and may not unreasonably indulge anticipations of commensurate success in the ensuing campaign.
The organization of reserves is in progress, and it is hoped they will be valuable in affording local protection without requiring details and detachments from active forces.
Among the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary of War, your attention is specially invited to those on which legislation is suggested on the following subjects, namely:
The tenure of office of the general officers in the provisional army, and a proper discrimination in the compensation of the different grades.
The provision required in aid of invalid officers who have resigned in consequence of wounds or sickness contracted while in the service.
The amendment of the law which deprives officers in the field of the privilege of purchasing rations, and thus adds to their embarrassment, instead of conferring the benefit intended.
The organization of the general staff of the army, in relation to which a special message will shortly be addressed to you, containing the reasons which compelled me to withhold my approval of a bill passed by your predecessors at too late a period of the session to allow time for returning it for their reconsideration.
The necessity for an increase in the allowance now made for the transportation of officers travelling under orders.
The mode of providing officers for the execution of the conscript laws.
The means of securing greater despatch and more regular administration of justice in examining and disposing of the records of cases reported from the courts-martial and military courts in the army.
The recent events of the war are highly creditable to our troops, exhibiting energy and vigilance combined with the habitual gallantry which they have taught us to expect on all occasions. We have been cheered by important and valuable successes ii) Florida, Northern Mississippi, Western Tennessee and Kentucky, Western Louisiana, and Eastern North-Carolina, reflecting the highest honor on the skill and conduct of our commanders, and on the incomparable soldiers whom it is their privilege to lead. A naval attack on Mobile was so successfully repulsed at the outer works that the attempt was abandoned, and the nine months' siege of Charleston has been practically suspended, leaving that noble city and its fortresses imperishable
monuments to the skill and fortitude of its defend ers. The armies in Northern Georgia and in Northern Virginia still oppose, with unshaken front, a formidable barrier to the progress of the invader; and our generals, armies, and people are animated by cheerful confidence.
Let us, then, while resolute in devoting all our energies to securing the realization of the bright auspices which encourage us, not forget that our humble and most grateful thanks are due to Him, without whose guidance and protecting care all human efforts are of no avail, and to whose interposition are due the manifold successes with which we have been cheered.
Bichxois, May 2,1364.
POETRY AND INCIDENTS.
THE STORMING OF LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.
BT DAFT. THOS. H. ILLIOTT.
The uncertain mists were thickening as the 'proach of day was quickening; The angel of the dawn had put out the stars of night; A sombre mantle wrapped about the beetling cliffs of Lookout, Which frowned in threat'ning majesty from its heaven-souring height
Awakened a day of great portending—soldiers pray ing a victorious ending Should show the world the prowess and the force in Federal might Many a suppliant, prayerful bending, to Him patriot hopes was sending, That Lookout should be ours before the day sank into night.
Through the forest, bared and blackened, with steadiness ne'er slackened, Wound like a lithesome river a column known as Geary's braves; Marched they forth to take the mountain, though the soil should drain life's fountain— Surged they onward 'gainst the giant rocks like the sea's tumultuous waves.
"Forward! Forward!" Geary shouted, as their dancing colors flouted The chilly breeze that 'mong the mountain shadows played; Borne upon the wings of glory, like gnomes of ghostly story, They sped onward, and with wild charge the Miss'ippians dismayed.
Then came a scene of wildest battle—the dread musketry's*rattle— And the bayonet found its sheath in the carcass of the foe. The " Rebs " retreated quite defeated—the remnant who Death cheated— Our victors sent up loud cheers for Union, Geary, "Uncle Joe."
Glorious paeans, cheers of conquest, among crags, above the contest, Greeted Hooker, greeted Geary, with the first flush of the sun.
Vol. VIII.—Pobtrt 1
I Then our bay'nets madly plying, the enemy ever flying each for bravest deeds vying, On battlements, in deep ravines—our work In earnest had begun.
Behind works of art and strongest Nature—a wall of flame at each embrasure— Under the weird finger of the mountain, which reached into the skies, Where the grizzly warrior " graybacka" of the rebel Manny, who, like Ajax, Defied a power above him, and to oppose it hard he tries.
Over works, upon their flanks, hand to hand amidst their ranks, The pressing force of Geary forth the foemen drove • Over bastions, breastworks, fled they—from the carnival of death sped they— But deadly volleys and "White Stars" a cordon round them wove.
Deadly trial of the dastard's flight, with the sweeping whirlwind's might, Toward the Star of Bethlehem, Geary turned the mountain curve; O'er the crimson paths before them, on the vanquished host they bore them, The daring Second and Third brigades, and the gallant First in reserve.
To the ambitious eagle's eyrie, were borne the strifetorn flags of Geary, As like angry storm-spirits, his boys fought far above the clouds;
Their courage was their tegis as thev carved for hist'ry brightest pages;
, In their path of glory many "blue-coats," more of "gray-coats"—martial shrouds.
Grenades, grape, and screaming shell, with noise like strife of fiends in hell, Unheeded came from the Titan rocks into this Gheber's bloody glen; "Sweep every rebel from it," from base to Lookout summit, Was the fiat of the bold Hooker, and the duty of his men.
In the "last ditch," torn and shattered, massed the rebel hordes so scattered,
And the clash of arms and crash of battle raged
anew— Assault upon assault was given, while the crags and
heavens seemed riven, Surged they forward—surged they backward, and
recoiled that rebel crew.
The shades of night crept on apace, came erring shots" through gloomy space, As in the fogs of Erebus, died this most glorious day; The myriad fires beaming, 'mid planet torches gleaming With fitful' glare, revealed the battle horrors in ghastly array.
From the blasted souls there moaning comes a wail and sufferers' groaning, And Death in hideous forms dead hopes grim reveal edi 'Twas a night of watch and waiting, with no vigilance abating, While the chill wind sang hosannaa and a requiem o'er the bloody field.
At early dawn the mount was ours, one of heaven's choicest dowers, As the Stars and Stripes and "White Star" were planted on the crest. Two thousand foes were taken from the ranks we had so shaken; Seven colors, and their cannon, and many spoils given to our behest.
Lay the laurel on their cold brows, honored martyrs to their Union vows, The brave soldiers whose lives on their country's shrine were given; Bow the head and drop the tear, as you plant banners o'er the bier Of the patriot whose spirit soars with angel wings to heaven.
With life-regardless decision—the old "White Star Division," Fresh and laurelled from the brave army of Potomac's shore, Had shown their ability to fight, on this defiant mountain's height, And with " Cumberland's " brave boys ask to finish up the war.
RESPONSE OF THE COLORED SOLDIERS.
BY EDNA DEAN PROCTOR,
To God be the glory! They call us T we come!
How watchful, how eager we waited for this,
In terror lest all wero betrayed with a kiss!
Yet, weary in cabin or toiling in field,
The sweet hope of Freedom we never would yield;
But steadfast we trusted, through sorest delay,
That the beam on our night was the dawning of day.
Tis dawning! 'tis morning! the hills are aglow!
One grasp of the rifle, one glimpse of the fray,
The bright Flag above us, exultant we hail;
Ahd'then,'when the conflict is done, in the gleam
shame; His cottage unravished; and, blithesome as he, His wife by the hearthstone—his babe on her knee.
The cotton grows fair by the sea, as of old;
To God be the glory I They call us! we come!
'Twas something to be a chieftain when •
The Chaldee hero fought,
When manhood's work was wrought.
And at the Pass, and Salamis, still higher
Waved the glorious crest,
And won a country's rest.
And something 'twas, when Hamilcar's great son
Was hero under oath—
For manhood conquered both.
And when across the Medial gulf we look
For radiant fields of glory,
The honors of the story.
But still the march of progress onward beat
Toward the glorious goal, Where despot hosts and Freedom's legions meet
To try the world's control.
Then Liberty's flag was given to the strife,
Where nature's self is grand, With rivers, lakes, with mountains and with life,
And billions, too, of land.
Triumphant, then, the banner of the free,
Over that curse and blight—
Who battled for the right.