網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

days he would shoot ten Confederate prisoners as "a meet reward for their crimes, among which was the illegal restraining of said Allsman of his liberty." The ten days elapsed, and the prisoner was not returned. The following account of what ensued, is condensed from the Palmyra Courier, a "Union" journal, without any variation from the language in which it describes the deed of the demons with whom it was in sympathy:

"The tenth day expired with last Friday. On that day ten "rebel prisoners, already in custody, were selected to pay "with their lives the penalty demanded. A little after 11 "o'clock, A. M., the next day, three government wagons drove "to the jail. One contained four, and each of the others three "rough board coffins. The condemned men were conducted "from the prison and seated in the wagons, one upon each "coffin. A sufficient guard of soldiers accompanied them, and "the cavalcade started for the fatal grounds. The ten coffins "were removed from the wagons and placed in a row, six or "eight feet apart, forming a line north and south. Each coffin "was placed upon the ground with its foot wTest and head east. "Thirty soldiers of the 2d M. S. M. were drawTn up in a single "line, extending north and south, facing the row of coffins. "The arrangements completed, the men knelt upon the grass "between their coffins and the soldiers. At the conclusion of "a prayer by the army chaplain, each prisoner took his seat "upon the foot of his coffin, facing the muskets which in a "few moments were to launch them into eternity. They were "nearly all firm and undaunted. The most noted of the ten "was Captain Tkomas A. Sidner of Monroe county, whose "capture at Shelbyville, in the disguise of a woman, we related "several weeks since. He was now elegantly attired in a suit "of black broadcloth, with a white vest. A luxurious growth "of beautiful hair rolled down upon his shoulders, which, with "his fine personal appearance, could not but bring to mind the "handsome but vicious Absalom. There was nothing espe"cially worthy of note in the appearance of the others. A "few moments after 1 o'clock the chaplain in attendance shook "hands with the prisoners. Two of them accepted bandages "for the eyes, the rest refused. A hundred spectators had "gathered around the amphitheatre to witness the impressive "scene. The stillness of death pervaded the place. The "officer in command now stepped forward, and gave the word "of command—' Ready! aim! fire!' The discharges, how"ever, were not made simultaneously—probably through want "of a perfect understanding of the orders to fire. Two of the "rebels fell backwards upon their coffins and died instantly. "Capt. Sidner sprang forward and fell with his head towards "the soldiers, his face upwards, his hands clasped upon his "breast, and the left leg drawn half way up. He did not "more again, but died immediately. He had requested the "soldiers to aim at his heart, and they obeyed but too "implicitly. The other seven were not killed outright; so the "reserves were called in, who dispatched them with their "revolvers-."

The "Palmyra massacre" was destined to a long and painful remembrance by the people of the South, not only because of its tragic interest, but because it was a comment scrawled in blood on that weak and remiss policy of our government, which had so long submitted to the barbarous Tiarfare of the enemy and hesitated at the rule of retaliation.

THE MILITARY AND POLITICAL SITUATION.

A slight survey of the military situation at this time adds something to the list of our disasters, and is necessary to understand the proportions of the crisis at whi^h the fortunes of the South had arrived.

The capture of Galveston on the coast of Texas, on the 9th of October, was another repetition of the almost invariable story of disaster at the hands of the enemy's naval power. It was made almost without resistance. In the early part of the war, the defenceless condition of Galveston had been represented to the government, as in fact there was no ordnance available there but a lot of old cannon captured from the United States. These representations in the letters and petitions of th# people of Galveston were made without effect^ until at last, some time in the summer of 1861, a deputation of citizens waited upon the authorities at Richmond, begging piteously a few cannon to defend them from the enemy. The whole extent of the response of the government to this and other appeals was to send to Galveston eleven or thirteen guns, two of which were rifled; and transportation for these was only given to New Orleans, whence they had to be dragged over piney hills and through swamps to their destination. The consequence was, that the enemy had made an easy prize of one of our principal seaports; when, after threatening it for eighteen months, he at last found it practically defenceless.

The fall of Galveston again turned the perplexed attention of the people of the South to the enormous and rapid increase of the enemy's naval power in this war as one of its most painful subjects of interest. This arm had grown to such size as to^threaten us in many respects more seriously than the enemy's land forces. It was calculated, that with the completion of their vast number of naval structures already on the stocks, the Yankees would have 388 vessels, mounting 3,072 guns— nearly nine guns to the vessel. Of these, thirty wrere ironclad, mounting ninety of the heaviest guns in the world, each weighing 42,240 pounds, and throwing a solid shot, fifteen inches in diameter, weighing 480 pounds.

It is not wonderful that in view of these vast preparations in the North, the people of the South should have watched with intense interest the long lines of their sea-coast, and been on the tiptoe of expectation for the fleets of the Yankees, which were to sweep upon them in numbers and power yet unequalled by any naval demonstration of the enemy in this war. It was easy to see that the South would have to look to its foundries to set off the naval power of the enemy. When we could match their naval armaments with our batteries on shore, We might expect to hold our sea-coast against their fleets. The authorities at Richmond were instructed that there was but one way of replying to the Yankee iron-clads on equal terms; and that was by iron-clad batteries, with powerful guns in them, and with the use of steel-pointed or wrought-iron projectiles.

In the Southwest, the strong tenure which we maintained of Vicksburg was a stumbling-block to th*e Yankee schemes for the conquest of Mississippi. The fate of that State was also confidently entrusted to the brave troops under the command of General Pemberton, who was assisted by Van Dorn and Price and an increasing army.

But it was to Tennessee that the minds of the intelligent were turned to look for the earliest and severest conflict of the campaign in the West. The enemy already held the western portion of the State and a part of the middle, and evidently desired to obtain possession of the eastern portion. He was reported to be coming down from Kentucky for the purpose, in heavy columns, under Gen. Rosecranz, by way of Nashville; and there was reason to suppose that he would endeavour to make a flank movement on Knoxville, and, at the same time, capture Chattanooga, as the key of North Alabama and Georgia.

In Virginia a lull had followed the famous summer campaign, and our army in the northern part of the State quietly recruited, and was daily improving in organization and numbers. The only incident that had broken the monotony of our camps was the renewal in the North of the phantom of "invasion by the rebels" by a raid into Pennsylvania, accomplished by the rapid and brilliant commander of our cavalry, Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, with about two thousand men. The expedition penetrated to Chambersburg, wrhich was occupied for a short time by our troops on the 10th of October. It met with no resistance, accumulated no stores, and accomplished nothing beyond the results of a reconnoissance, and the wonder of one of the most rapid marches on record.

This expedition left to the Yankees a remarkable souvenir of Southern chivalry. Private property was uniformly respected by our troops; Yankee civilians were treated with scrupulous regard; and many kindnesses were shown the alarmed people in a knightly style, which would have been creditable to us had it not been made ridiculous by excess of courtesy and a tender and ceremonious politeness which was in very absurd contrw to the manners of our enemy. On entering Chambersburg, "the soft-mannered rebels," as Colonel McClure, the Yankee commander of the post, described them, treated him with the most tender politeness. Indeed, the narrative of this officer's experience furnishes a curious leaf in the history of the war. To the great amusement of the people of the North, Col. McClure gave a long account in the newspapers of the strained chivalry of our troops. He related how they had "thanked him for being candid," when he told them that he was a Republican; how he was politely asked for food by the officers; and how a private in Stuart's terrible command had, "with a profound bow, asked for a few coals to light a fire."

The story of these courtesies and salaams to our enemy is not one for our amusement. It affords an instructive illustration that is valuable in history, of the over-amiable disposition and simple mind of the South; and it places in stark and horrible contrast an agreeable picture with that of the devilish atrocities and wanton and mocking destruction of the Yankee armies on the soil of the Confederacy.

While the war lagged, we are called upon to notice new sources of resolution and power in the South, which were perhaps more valuable than victories in the field. In this department of interest, which is quite equal to that of battles and sieges, it will be necessary to pass in review some political acts of the rival governments, and some events of moral importance.

At last the Abolitionists of the North had had their wild and wicked will. On the 22d day of September, President Lincoln issued his celebrated proclamation of "emancipa

« 上一頁繼續 »