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Anderson ville, Georgia, and in the full description, verified on oath, of what is now being suffered there by the imprisoned soldiers of our army. It would appear to be Belle Isle five times enlarged, and tenfold intensified. An enormous multitude of 35,000 men are crowded together in a square enclosure or stockade of about twenty-five acres, with a noxious swamp at the centre, occupying one-fourth of the whole space. Here the prisoners suffer not only the privations already mentioned, but others peculiar to circumstances of a worse description. In this pestilential prison they are dying at the rate of 130 a day, on an averasre! The commissioners allude to this station not as part of the evidence taken by themselves, but as an interesting, authentic, and corroborative illustration of the point now under consideration.*
"It is the same story everywhere:— prisoners of war treated worse than convicts, shut up either in suffocating buildings, or in outdoor enclosures, without even the shelter that is provided for the beasts of the field; unsupplied with sufficient food; supplied with food and water injurious and even poisonous; compelled to live in such personal uncleanliness as to generate vermin; compelled to sleep on floors often covered with human filth, or on ground saturated with it; compelled to breathe an air oppressed with an intolerable stench; hemmed in by a fatal dead-line and in hourly danger of being
* In a supplement to the report is an account of the sufferings of our prisoners at Andersonville, Georgia, and the memorial and appeal, sent through one of their number exchanged, to the president of the United States, under date of August, 1864.
shot by unrestrained and brutal guards; despondent even to madness, idiocy and suicide; sick of diseases (so congruous in character as to appear and spread like the plague), caused by the torrid i sun, by decaying food, by filth, by verminj by malaria, and by cold; removed at the last moment, and by hundreds at a time, to hospitals corrupt as a sepulchre, there, with few remedies, little care and no sympathy, to die in wretchedness and despair, not only among strangers, but among enemies too resentful either to have pity or to show mercy.'
"These are positive facts. Tens of thousands of helpless men have been and are now being disabled and destroyed by a process as certain as poison, and as cruel as the torture or burning at the stake, because nearly as agonizing and more prolonged. This spectacle is daily beheld and allowed by the rebel government. No suppoei- i tion of negligence, or thoughtlessness, or indifference, or accident, or ineffici- 1! ency, or destitution, or necessity, can account for all this. So many and such positive forms of abuse and wrong cannot come from negative causes. The | conclusion is unavoidable, therefore, that'these privations and sufferings' have been 'designedly inflicted by the military and other authority of the rebel government,' and cannot have been ' due to causes which such authorities could not control.'" *
* Some mitigation of these unutterable, indescribable sufferings was happily effected before the close of the year, the result of a correspondence between Gen. Lee and Gen. Grant, the rebel authorities taking the initiative, by which it was agreed that either party might send to their prisoners of war such articles of necessity and comfort as might be desirable. This was
As we have before noted (p. 387), raids were threatened along our northern frontier by rebel sympathisers and traitors in the British dominions. Two small steamers were burned on Lake Erie by a band of these ruffians, who made their escape into Canada; * and in October, another band, about thirty in number, attacked the village of St. Albans, Vermont, plundered the banks, stole all they could, and made off toward the Canada line. They were pursued, and, by the help of the Canadian authorities, twelve of them, beside a fellow named Young, were arrested and put in jail. Various delays occurred before a trial could be had; and then, on the 13th of December, the Canadian judge, Coursol, of Montreal, decided that the court had no jurisdiction, and set the robbers and murderers at liberty. Such conduct stirred up great indignation in the United States; Gen. Dix, at New York, issued a stringent order,
a decided measure of relief pending tho negotiation of the entangled question of a general exchange of. prisoners. Early in tho following year, 1865, the ex change of prisoners, on tho part of the North, was placed in the hands of Gen. Grant, by whom arrangements were made and carried into effect for a general exchange. (See p. 390.)
* The leader in this affair, John Y. Beall, a native of Virginia, was arrested, in December, by Mr. Young, chief of the New York Metropolitan detective force. Bcall wa3 tried and convicted " as a spy and guerrillero," and was hung oa the ISth of February, 1865.
requiring, in any similar case, that the marauders be shot, and, if need be, that they be pursued into Canada and brought to his headquarters for summary execution. The president modified the order, and the Canadian authorities re-arrested Young and several of his companions.
In furtherance of their vile purposes, the rebels made a deliberate attempt to set fire to the chief hotels and theatres, on the night of the 25th of November; but, providentially, the murderous attempt was defeated. In speaking of this, Gen. Dix said, the next day: "If this attempt had succeeded, it would have resulted in a frightful sacrifice of property and life. The evidences of extensive combination, and other facts disclosed to-day, show it to have been the work of rebel emissaries and agents. All such persons engaged in secret acts of hostility here can only be regarded as spies, subject to martial law, and to the penalty of death. If they are detected, they will be immediately brought before a court martial or military commission, and, if convicted, they will be executed without the delay of a single day."*
* B. C. Kennedy, a Louisianian, one of tho chief incendiaries, was arrested and tried by a military com. mission at Gen. Dix's headquarters. He was convicted and hung on the 35th of March, 1865.
PEACE PROPOSITIONS: ACTION OF CONGRESS: INAUGURATION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Renewal of efforts to negotiate peace with the rebels'— Mr. F. P. Blair goes to Richmond — His movements — The president's course — Conference — Failure of any result — Another attempt — The president's letter to Gen. Grant — The rebel statement — Davis's mortification — Lee appointed rebel commander-in-chief — His urgent appeal — Rebel congress vote to arm the slaves and employ them as soldiers—Bitter necessity of the case—Last appeal of rebel congress — Second session of the Thirty-eighth Congress — Various measures — The most important, the passing the Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery — The amendment, as sent to the states — Action thereupon — The national debt at this date — Andrew Johnson's inaugural speech, as vice-president, on the 4th of March — Striking scene at Mr. Lincoln's inauguration — His remarkable address in full — Reasons for hopefulness in the future.
In a previous chapter (p. 460), we have given some account of the efforts made to satisfy the longing desire for peace, and the fruitless results of such efforts. Despite the failure, in the summer of 1864, there was a renewal of the attempt to reach the same end, by the visit of Francis P. Blair, senior, to Richmond, in December. This gentleman was allowed, by an order from the president, on the 26th of December, "to pass our lines, go south, and return," but received no authority to speak or act for the government, nor was the president "informed of anything he would say or do on his own account or otherwise." On his arrival at Richmond, Mr. Blair had an interview with Jeff. Davis, and received from him a letter, dated January 12th, in which he expressed himself desirous to send a commissioner, or receive a commission, " to enter into a conference with a view to secure peace to the two countries." On returning to Washing
ton, and communicating Davis's letter to the president, Blair received, on the 18th of January, a reply, as follows:— "Sir, you having shown me Mr. Davis's letter to you, of the 12th inst., you may say to him that 1 have constantly been, am now, and shall continue ready to receive any agent whom he, or any other influential person now resisting the national authority, may informally send me, with a view of securing peace to the people of our common country." Blair, thereupon, revisited Richmond, and Davis appointed three persons, A. H. Stephens, J. A. Campbell, and R. M. T. Hunter, as commissioners to proceed to Washington. On the 29th of January, these agents of Davis reached our lines, and, after some delays, arrived at Gen. Grant's headquarters at City Point, where they met Major Eckert, whom the president had sent on his behalf. An unsatisfactory interview was had, on the 1st of February, and matters would
probably have closed here, had not Gen. Grant, indirectly, through the secretary of war, urged the president to meet Messrs. Stephens, Campbell and Hunter. Acting on this suggestion, Mr. Lincoln followed Secretary Seward, who had gone to Fortress Monroe a day or two before. He reached Hampton Roads on the evening of the 2d of February, and the next day the interview took place on board of a steamer in the - river. "On the morning of the 3d," as the president stated in a message to Congress, in reply to a resolution, "Messrs. Stephens, Hunter and Campbell came aboard our steamer. and had an interview with the secretary of state and myself, of several hours' duration. No question of preliminaries to the meeting was then and there made or mentioned. No other person was present. No papers were exchanged or produced, and it was in advance agreed that the conversation was to be informal and verbal merely. On my part, the whole substance of the instructions to the secretary of state, hereinbefore re1865 cited, was stated and insisted upon, and nothing was said inconsistent therewith;* while, by the
* These instructions were thus worded:—" You will make known to them (Stephens, etc.) that three things are indispensable,—1st, The restoration of the national authority throughout all the states. 2d, No receding by the executive of the United States, on the slavery question, from the position assumed thereon in the late annual message to Congress, and in the preceding documents. 3d, No cessation of hostilities short of an end of the war, and the disbanding of all the forces hostile to the government. You will inform them that all propositions of theirs not inconsistent with the above will be considered and passed upon in a spirit of sincere liberality. You will hear all they may choose to say, and report it to me. You will not assume to definitely consummatr anything." VOL. IV.—0o.
other party, it was not said that, in any event or on any condition, they ever would consent to reunion; and yet they equally omitted to declare that they would never so consent. They seemed to desire a postponement of that question, and the adoption of some other course first, which, as some of them seemed to argue, might or might not lead to reunion, but which course, we thought, would amount to an indefinite postponement. The conference ended without result."
The persons above named, on their return to the rebel capital, made a report to Jeff. Davis, who sent it, with a message to his congress, on the 6th of February. As was to be expected, Davis felt very uncomfortable at the result, which placed Mr. Lincoln, in his view, in the light of a "conquerer," and required "unconditional submission" to the Constitution and laws of the United States, emancipation and the abolishment of slavery included. Several public meetings were held in Richmond, in order, as one of the newspapers phrased it, "to hurl back into Lincoln's teeth the insult put upon the southern people by his answers to the confederate commissioners." Speeches were made by Hunter, Benjamin, and others; fierce denunciations were indulged in; and tremendous efforts were made to rouse up the southern spirit sufficiently to carry on the contest now almost hopeless.
Another attempt at negotiation was made by Davis, at the end of February, arising out of a conversation between Gen. Ord and the rebel Gen. Longstreet, at an interview on the subject
of the exchange of prisoners. Lee, by Davis's direction, communicated with Grant, who asked for orders from the president. The answer came directly, on the 3d of March, through the secretary of war :—" The president directs me to say to you, that he wishes you to have no conference with Gen. Lee, unless it be for the capitulation of Gen. Lee's army, or on mere minor and purely military matters. He instructs me to say that you are not to decide, discuss, or confer upon any political question. Such questions the president holds in his own hands, and will submit them to no military conferences or conventions. Meantime, you are to press to the utmost your military advantages." This, of course, put a stop to anything further, and Grant informed Lee accordingly.
Early in February, Lee, who had been made general-in-chief of the rebel forces, issued an order stating the fact, in which he said, "I rely for success upon the courage and fortitude of the army, sustained by the patriotism and firmness of the people, confident that their united efforts, under the blessing of Heaven, will secure peace and independence." Lee followed this by calling, in most urgent terms, upon deserters, absentees, and the like, who, he was sure, would "require no exhortation to respond to the calls of honor and duty." He offered free pardon to all such who would come before twenty days elapsed, and threatened punishment in case of refusal. But the appeal was in vain. Deserters and absentees had had enough of fighting in this war. The "Confederacy" was in the last stages
of dissolution, and, bravely and defiantly as the rebels talked, they could not shut their eyes to the fact.
Another measure, which plainly foreshadowed the approaching ruin of the rebellion, was that which, after much bitter discussion in the newspapers, and by the rebel leaders and congress, was finally determined upon in the month of March; we refer to the arming of the negroes and employing them as soldiers. Gen. Lee, who was of opinion that the negroes would make good, soldiers, and who was painfully aware of the vast importance of securing an increase to his army, said distinctly, "I think this measure not only expedient but necessary." And so others thought and said; but it was a bitter draft to swallow by those haughty men who were trying to build up an edifice, the very corner stone of which was, the blessings of slavery and the absolute, God-ordained inferiority of the negro; race. It was like a self-stultification to adopt the course now resolved upon; and this, more than one among them clearly saw. "Whenever," said Gov. Brown of Georgia, :<we establish the fact that the negroes are a military people, we destroy our theory that they are unfit to be free. When we arm the slaves we abandon slavery." So, too, Mr. Hunter of Virginia, in the rebel senate, pointed out the inevitable con- I elusions to which the present measure led. "If we offer slaves their freedom as a boon, we confess that we were insincere, were hypocritical, in asserting that slavery was the best state for the negroes themselves. . . . Arming and emancipating the slaves was an