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fishwoman might successfully compete.

The Senate, whert about to give its sanction to General Sherman's
"historical statement." ought, in fairness, to have demanded of him
the production of the verifying letters, papers, and information within
his knowledge or possession. He says in that "Ex. Doc." : "But
of him (myself) I have personal knowledge, not meant for publi-|
cation, but to become a part of the 'Traditions of the Civil War,'
which the Grand Army of the Republic will preserve." What fair
and honorable purpose could the Senate liave had in sanctioning such
a base and infamous innuendo, as that above quoted from page 3 of]
the " Ex. Uoc. ?" If that " personal knowledge" is withheld from
publication for the purposes of future slanders, surely the Senate]
ought not to have made itself a party to that malice which hides its'
slanders until their subject shall have passed away, and contradiction I
and exposure become difficult, if not impossible. But I am not]
apprehensive of Sherman's additions to the "Traditions of the Civil'
War;" he stands pilloried before the public and all future history as.



President Davis in Reply to General Sherman. 271

an imbecile scold or an infamous slanderer — as either, he is harm -
less.

The statement on page 3. that a box containing private papers^ of
mine was found at the house of my brother, Joseph E. Davis, is
untrue. The error in the place where a box was seized by his pil-
lagers would not have been material if made by a truthful man, but
when an habitual falsifier falls into even a slight error of locality, it
is not surprising that he should be suspected of having intentionally
fixed upon my brother's residence to give point and probability to
some other falsehood, ihe box of papers was found at a farmer's
house several miles away from my brother's, and the box did not
contain a single letter written to me or by me 2Lt Montgomery. There-
fore Sherman's statement that he abstracted from that box three let-
ters which had been written to me by loyal officers of the United States
army, and returned to the writers to protect them from the suspicion
of complicity with the Government at Montgomery, can have no other
foundation in truth than, probably, the discovery of letters written at
former times and received by me before the inauguration of the Con-
federate Government at Montgomery.

It is due to the memory of the late Alexander H. Stephens, whose
letter to Herschel V. Johnson has been made the foundation for this
vile assault upon myself, to say, that if the letter is genuine, and has
not been altered to serve Sherman's malice against myself, that it was
written under excitement and when disappointment and apprehension
of our overthrow had influenced his judgment and opinion, and
that this private letter, written under its attending circumstances,
never intended for publication, and expressing hasty opinions, will
not be allowed to cast its shadow over the carefully-prepared history
of the war which Mr. Stephens has left to inform posterity of his
views of public men and measures. I will be pardoned for extracting
from Mr. Stephens's ''War between the States" remarks compli-
mentary to myself, since they completely refute the purpose for which
the Johnson letter has been produced. In Volume II, pages 624-5,
commenting upon the meeting at the African church, in Richmond,
after the unsuccessful effort for peace in Hampton Roads, Mr. Ste-
phens says :

"Many who had heard this master of oratory in his most brilliant
displays in the Senate and on the hustings said they never before
saw Mr. Davis so really majestic! The occasion and the effects of
the speech, as well as all the circumstances under which it was made,



272 Southern Historical Society Papers.

caused the minds of not a few to revert to appeals by Rienzi and
Demosthenes.

" However much I admired the heroism of the sentiment ex-
pressed, yet in his general views or policy to be pursued in the then
situation I could not concur. I doubt not that all — the President,
the Cabinet and Congt&ss—did the very best they could, from their
own convicUons of what was best to be done at the time."

In the same volume, on page 657, Mr. Stephens speaks of me as
a man "of very strong convicdons and great earnestness of pur-
pose." In a conversation had during the summer of 1863, which
was reduced to wridng at the time, Mr. Stephens said :

" The hardships growing out of our military arrangements are
not the fault of the President ; * * * they are due to his subor-
dinates."

In October of the same year, (" Life of A. H. Stephens," by John-
son & Browne, pages 445-47,) he wrote to a friend who had asked
what would be his probable course in the event of the death of
myself, as follows :

" I should regard the death of the President as the greatest possi-
ble pjiblic calamity. What I should do I know not. A large num-
ber of prominent and active men in the country * * would dis-
trust my ability to conduct affairs successfully. They have now,
and would have, 710 confideyice in my judgment or capacity for the
position that such an untimely misfortune would cast upon me."

These passages (and others might be selected from the writings
of Mr. Stephens since the war) bear voluntary and involunta'"y tes-
timony to my character and motives, and more than answer the
complaints contained in the letter to Mr. H. V. Johnson, and in the
canvass just preceding his death. Mr. Stephens said that the only
difference between us during the war was as to the policy of ship-
ping the cotton crop of 1861 to Europe. That criticism, when made
by another, was fully answered by Mr. Trenholm and Mr. Memmin-
ger, the two secretaries of the Confederate States treasury, in which
they very clearly showed that the cotton crop of 1861 had been
mainly exported before the Confederate government was formed, and
that if reference was made to any later crop, the Confederacy had no
ships in which to export it, and the blockade prevented, to a great
extent, foreign ships from taking the cotton out.

The " secret message," which is printed in this " historical state-
ment." was communicated to the Confederate States Congress, and



Fresident Davis in Reply to General Sherman. 273

recommended the suspension of the writ oi habeas corpus. The rea-
sons for that recommendation are fully set forth in the message. It
was an application to Congress for authority to suspend the writ,
and it was within the constitutional power of Congress to grant the
authority. It was a measure of public defence against schemes and
plots of enemies which could not be reached under the process of
law. On two occasions was that extraordinary remedy resorted to,
and each was by authority of Congress. But even when the writ
was suspended, no head of any cabinet department kept a " little
bell," the tinkle of which consigned to prison men like Teackle
Wallis, George William Brown, John Merryman, Charles Howard,
Judge Carmichael dragged off the bench, and which became as fear-
ful to the people as the letters-de cachet of the tyrants of Paris.
Martial law followed the army of the United States, and provost
marshals were often the judges that passed upon the person and
property of ladies, children and old men, and the venerable Chief
Justice Taney was not spared the humiliation of seeing even the
Supreme Court of the United States brought to understand that the
civil had become subordinate to the military authority.

The conscript law in the Confederate States, and the draft in the
United States, were measures adopted by the respective Congresses,
and not acts of either Mr. Lincoln or myself They were both meas-
ures of public defence, intended to equalize the burden of military
duty, as far as it was compatible with the public defence. As well
might we leave revenue to be provided by voluntary contribution,
instead of by general taxation, or the roads to be worked by the
willing and industrious, instead of distributing the burden equitably
over the whole people. Yet the Senators that called for this "his-
torical statement" will hardly hold that President Lincoln was
seeking a dictatorship because he enforced the draft.

This " historical statement " might have been enlarged and ex-
tended by the Senate, and made to embrace the deliberate misrep-
resentation by General Sherman of the communication to him
by Colonel J. D Stevenson, in regard to Albert Sidney John-
ston's command in San Francisco. In a letter to Colonel William
H. Knight, of Cincinnati, Ohio, dated October 28, 1884, General
Sherman asserted that " Colonel J. D. Stevenson, now living in San
Francisco, has often told me that he had cautioned the Government
as to a plot or conspiracy, through the department commander, Al-
bert Sidney Johnston, to deliver possession of the forts, etc., to men
in California sympathizing with the rebels in the South, and he thinks



k



274 SoutJiem Historical Society Papers.

it was bv his advice that the President (Lincoln) sent General E, V.
Sumner to relieve Johnston of his command before the conspiracy
was consummated." That statement of Sherman, the veteran Colo-
nel J. D. Stevenson promptly and emphatically denied, saying : "The
history of this matter was published fully and in detail in the San
Francisco Evening Post in its issue of October 9, 1880. What reports
General Keyes may have made to the authorities at Washington, I
do not know; but that the removal of General Johnston was the
means of preventing a Pacific republic, I do not for an instant be-
lieve; for neither at the time of General Sumner's taking command
and relieving General Johnston, nor at any time afterward, do I
believe any uprising or conspiracy was contemplated." Colonel
Stevenson adds that General Sumner held General Albert Sidney John-
ston to be " a soldier, a gentleman and an honorable man; he is in-
capable of betraying a trust." That slander against General Albert
Sidney Johnston was as equally unnecessary and as uncalled for as
the wholly gratuitous assault upon myself.

General Grant himself has not been exempt from Sherman's malice.
To Colonel Scott, Sherman wrote, "if C. J. Smith had lived Grant
would have disappeared to history." This remarkable statement
was published by General Fry and pointedly and emphatically de-
nied by General Sherman. Prompt to slander, he is equally quick
to deny his language. The letter of Sherman, dated September 6,
1883, was written to Colonel Scott, now of the War Record office.
The denial of Sherman has caused the publication of the letter and
exposure of his hypocrisy in recent laudation of the dead chieftain.

The deliberate falsehood which Sherman inserted in his official re-
port, that Columbia, South Carolina, had been burned by General
Wade Hampton, was afterwards confessed in his " Memoirs" to have
been ' ' distinctly charged on General Wade Hampton to shake the faith
of his people in him." Even when confessing one falsehood he de-
liberately coined another, and on the same page of his " Memoirs "
said that the rire " was accidental," when he knew, from the letter of
General Stone, who commanded the Provost Guard in Columbia,
that the fire was not accidental. How much more he knew, he may
in future " Memoirs " or " statements " reveal.

Can any man imagine less moral character, less conception of truth,
less regard for what an official report should contain, than is shown
by .Sherman deliberately concocting a falsehood for the dishonorable
purpose of shaking the faith of the people of South Carolina in their
fellow- citizen. General Wade Hampton? His election to be Gover-



President Davis in Reply to General Sherman. 275

nor of that Stale by the votes of a larger majority of her people of
every race than was ever polled before or since; his elevation to the
Senate of the United States, and the respect, admiration and regard
which is shown to him, must be particularly vexing to the Shermans,
and may have suggested to the General to " hedge '" in his " Memoirs"
and con/ess his wrong doing. Such an act of penance, if it brought
true and genuine repentance, would have protected the memory of
Albert Sidney Johnston, the fame of General Grant and my own repu-
tation from the slanders which called forth this exposure. It would
also have prevented the United States Senate from having indorsed
a falsehood, which is liable to be confessed when another volume of
"Memoirs" shall be prepared.

I have in this vindication, not of myself only, but also of the peo-
ple who honored me with the highest official position in their gift,
been compelled to group together instances of repeated falsehoods
deliberately spoken and written by General Sherman — the Blair Post
slander of myself, the defamation of the character of General Albert
Sidney Johnston, the disparagement of the military fame of General
Grant, and the shameful and corrupt charge against General Hamp-
ton. I have prepared this examination and exposure only because
the Senate of the United States has given to Sherman's slander an
indorsement which gives it whatever claims it may have to attention
and of power to mislead in the future. Having specifically stamped
the statement as false, having proved its author to be an habitual
slanderer, and not having a partisan secretary to make a place for this
notice of a personal tirade, which was neither an official report nor
record made during the war, so as to entitle it to be received at the
office of archives, I submit it to the public through the columns of
a newspaper which discountenances foul play and misrepresentation,
and which was kind and just to me in saying in its issue of January
14. 1885 :

" The Sherman statement was altogether one-sided ; Mr. Davis
had yet to be heard from, and for the Republicans of the Senate to
force a snap judgment upon the Sherman statement without hearing
what Mr. Davis had to say about it, smacks more of the political par-
tisan than of the fair-minded adversary." The public, through The
Sun, has this, my reply, and can dispense its "even-handed justice"
with full knowledge of the facts.

Very sincerely yours,

Jefferson Davis.



276 Southern Historical Society Papers.

The Battle of Chancellorsville.

BY COLONEL THEODORE A. DODGE, OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY.

In the " Lowell Institute" course of lectures, in Boston last winter,
the following lecture was delivered by Colonel Theodore A. Dodge,
author of the admirable book on Chancellorsville, which we had
occasion to notice so favorably. In order that our readers may
see clearly 7v/io it is that gives this able, clear, and very fair ac-
count of this great battle, we insert the following brief sketch of
Colonel Dodge given by the Boston Herald:

" Colonel Theodore A. Dodge is one of the best known men in
Boston military circles. He is now in his 43d year, having been
born in Pittstield, Massachusetts, in 1842. When quite young he
went to Berlin, Prussia, where he received his military education
under General von Froneich, of the Prussian army. When the
civil war cloud burst in the United States he promptly returned
home, enlisted and went to the front. He served constantly in the
Army of the Potomac (in every volunteer regimental rank up to
that of colonel) from the Peninsula, where he was with Kearney,
through Pope's and Burnside's campaigns, and at Chancellorsville
and Gettysburg, in which latter engagement he was with Howard.
He was thrice breveted for gallantry. After Gettysburg, where he
lost a leg, he was ordered to duty in the war department. While
there Secretary Stanton offered him a regular commission, which
was accepted. Colonel Dodge remained in the war department
until 1870, when he was, by reason of wounds received in the line
of duty, placed on the retired list of the army, where he now is."

We insert with great pleasure the lecture, without note or com-
ment of our own, except to say, that while possibly we might find ■
some statements in it with which we might not fully concur, yet we "
hail it as a happy omen when a gallant soldier who wore the Blue
can give to a Boston audience so candid and truthful an account
of a great battle in which the Federal arms suffered so severe a
disaster.

COLONEL dodge's LECTURE.

Ladies and Gentletnen : — You have listened to an eloquent and
able presentation of the main issues and events of our civil war by
one of our most distinguished fellow-citizens, a man upright in
peace, zealous in war. You have heard a graphic narrative of a



The Battle of Chancellor sville. 2*77

great Southern victory from one of our late antagonists, whose
record, as one of Stonewall Jackson's staff officers, stamps him
honest and brave, as his presence and bearing among us have
stamped him thoroughly reconstructed. You have had spread
before you an elaborate and brilliant view of one of our glorious
victories by a gallant soldier of two wars, who has beaten into a
ploughshare the sword he wielded to such good purpose in Mexico
and Virginia. It has fallen to my lot to tell you about one of our
most lamentable defeats. To tell the truth about Chancellorsville is
an invidious task. Less than the truth no one to-day would wish
to hear. Under Burnside the Arm}'- of the Potomac suffered an
equal disaster. But Burnside blamed himself alone. No word but
praise for his lieutenants passed his lips After Chancellorsville, on
the contrary, Hooker sought to shift all the blame upon his subor-
dinates, even to the extent of intimating that they were braggarts,
who would not fight. Particularly Howard and Sedgwick were his
scapegoats, and for some years Hooker's views gained credence.
His course renders necessary a critical examination of the cam-
paign. But be it remembered that every word o{ censure is uttered
with the consciousness that Hooker's memory lies embalmed in our
mausoleum of dead heroes, and that in lesser commands his career
was patriotic and useful.

The disaster at Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, had left its
mark upon the ever faithful Army of the Potomac. It had lost con-
fidence in its chief, but not in itself Burnside retired in January
to the satisfaction of all, but carrying away their affectionate regard.
Hooker succeeded to the command. His sobriquet of " Fighting
Joe " aptly but superficially characterized him. Few men could
handle a division — perhaps a corps — to better advantage under
definite orders. None gloried in the act of war more than he.
Lacking not conduct, yet the dramatic side of the art-military was
dearest to him, and his ubiquity and handsome bearing made him
better known to the army at large than many of his more efficient
brothers in arms. The troops accepted Hooker with the utmost
heartiness. He had been identified with their history. He was
bone of their bone. He seemed the very type and harbinger of
success. Men and officers alike joined in the work of rehabilitation.
Under well digested orders — for Hooker was a good organizer —
the lamentable laxity of discipline soon disappeared ; eagerness
succeeded apathy, and the Army of the Potomac once again held
high its head.



278 Southern Historical Society Papers.

On April 30, 1863, the morning report showed, "for duly
equipped," 131,491 officers and men, and nearly 400 guns in the
camp near Fahiiouth. Confronting this overwhelming body of men
lay the weather-beaten Army of Northern Virginia, numbering some
60,000 men and 170 guns. This force was posted from Banks's ford
above, to Skenker's Neck below Fredericksburg, a distance of some
fifteen miles. Every inch of this line was strongly and intelligently
fortified. The morale of the Confederate army could not be finer.
To numbers it opposed superior position and defences, and its won-
derful successes had bred that contempt of danger and that hardihood
which are of the very essence of discipline. Perhaps no infantry was
ever, in its own peculiar way, more permeated with the instinct of
pure fighting — ever felt the gaudium certaminis — than the Army of
Northern Virginia at this time.

The Army of the Potomac could not well risk another front attack
on Marye's Heights. To turn Lee's right flank necessitated opera-
tions quite en evidence, and the crossing of a river 1,000 feet wide in
the very teeth of the enemy. Hooker matured his plans for a move-
ment about Lee's left.

On April 12th the cavalry corps was ordered out upon a raid, via
Culpeper and Gordonsville, to the rear of Lee's army, in order to
cut his communications and to demoralize his troops at the moment
when the main attack should fall upon him.

" Let your watchword be fight! and let all your orders be fight!
fight! ! fight ! ! ! " was Hooker's aggressive order to Stoneman. The
performance of the latter, however, was in inverse ratio to the promise
of these instructions. The start was delayed two weeks by a rise in
the river; and the movement was so weak from its inception that the
cavalry raid degenerated into an utter failure, and the first step in
the campaign thus miscarried. The operations of the cavalry corps
scarcely belong to the history of Chancellorsville. They in no wise
affected the conduct or outcome ol the campaign.

In order to conceal his real move by the right, Hooker made show
of moving down the river, and a strong demonstration with the First,
Third and Sixth corps on the left, under command of Sedgwick.
Covered by Hunt's guns, on April 29th and 30th, pontoons were
thrown at Franklin's crossing and Pollock's mills, troops were put
over, and bridgeheads were constructed and held by Brooks's and
Wadsworth's divisions. Lee made no serious attempt to dispute
this movement, but watched the dispositions, uncertain how to gauge
their value.



The Battle of Chancellorsville. 279

Meanwhile, the Eleventh and Twelfth corps, followed by the Fifth,
with eight days' rations, marched up to Kelley's ford. Here all
three corps crossed the Rappahannock on the night of Wednesday
the 29th; and on Thursday the two former crossed the Rapidan at
Germania ford, and the latter at Ely's, and all three reached Chan-
cellorsville Thursday afternoon. Here Slocum assumed command.
Gibbon's division, of the Second corps, had been left to guard the
Falmouth camps and do provost duty, while French and Hancock,
after United States ford had been unmasked, crossed at this point
and joined the forces at Chancellorsville. The Third corps was like-
wise ordered from the left, by the same route, to the same point.

Thus far, everything had been admirably conceived and executed.
Small criticism can be passed upon Hooker's logistics. They were
uniformly good. Two of our corps had centred the enemy's atten-
tion upon his right flank, below Fredericksburg, while we had massed
four corps upon his left flank, with a fifth close by, and had scarcely
lost a man. Hooker's vaunting order of this day is all but justified
by the situation. But one more immediate and vigorous push, and
the Army of Northern Virginia would have been desperately com-
promised, practically defeated.

Lee had not been unaware of what the Federals had been doing,
but he had been largely misled by the feint below the town, and had
so little anticipated Hooker's movement by the right, that less than
3,000 of his cavalry were on hand to observe the crossing of the
Rappahannock and Rapidan. Stuart had not, until Thursday, fully
gauged the importance of this movement, and only on Thursday
night had Lee ascertained the facts, and been able to mature his plans
for parrying Hooker's thrust. Anderson had received, on Wednes-
day, orders to check at Chancellorsville, as long as possible, our
advance, supposed to be partial only, and then to slowly retire to the
Mine-Run road. This he had done, and here Lee^s engineers were
speedily engaged in drawing up a line of intrenchments. Early was
left at Hamilton's crossing, Barksdale remained in the town, and
Lee, with the bulk of his forces, hurried out to meet the Army of
the Potomac. At an early hour on Friday morning Jackson ar-
rived at the Mine-Run line and took command. Hooker's tardiness
in advancing had already allowed the erection of a difficult barrier.

The headquarters of the Army of the Potomac had remained at
Falmouth till Hooker personally reached •Chancellorsville. After
the transfer hither, the chief of staff", for ease of communication
between the wings, was kept at the old camp. Hooker now an-



280 Southern Historical Society Papers.

nounced his plan to advance Friday, in force, and uncover Banks's
ford, so as to be within quicker reach of Sedgwick. It had been a



Online LibrarySouthern Historical Society. cnSouthern Historical Society papers (Volume 14) → online text (page 29 of 61)