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ram, and when she sails under like circumstances with the first, my
people, having a previous understanding with you, will take her to
any rendezvous that may have been agreed upon, or will deliver her
to you or your agent at sea '

"The above is almost a verbatim report of the proposition made by
M. Arman, which, after some discussion upon matters of detail, was
accepted, and I have since felt a reasonable assurance of seeing one
of our rams at work upon the enemy. A day or two after I called
on M. Arman again, taking with me Captain Tessier, my agent in
France, a man of intelligence, a capital seaman, and of course master
of the French language. The object of the visit was to discuss the
arrangements necessary to get the corvettes to sea, and to send to
them their armament and crews. I told M. Arman that it would not
take a long time to set everything afloat when the proper moment
arrived, but that the undertaking was one which not only involved a
large expenditure of money, but which required to be managed with
great caution and secrecy. When the expedition was ready I said it
would be absolutely necessary for it to sail promptly, because delay
would cause exposure, and certain interruption and failure would
follow, and having due regard to such a contingency, it was very im-
portant and indeed essential that I should, if possible, get some
assurance that when we were all ready to move, the government
would permit the vessels to leave Bordeaux. M. Arman replied that
he thought there was no doubt about the corvettes being allowed to
sail unarmed, but he was to have a personal interview with the Em-
peror in ten days or a fortnight, and would then bring the matter to
a close by direct appeal to his Imperial Majesty.

" Many details relating to the best mode of shipping the guns, the
engagement of reliable captains, and the possibility of getting sea-
men from the ports of Brittany were discussed, all in a most satis-
factory manner. Before separating, M. Arman expressed great
regret at the delay and interference we had met with, and said that
as he had made the contracts for building all the ships in perfect good
faith, and with the assurance that his government understood the
whole transaction, and would permit him to carry it out, he felt doubly



Building Confederate Vessels in France. 463

bound to assist in every possible way, and to assume any responsi-
bility that might be necessary.

" In face of the foregoing statements, you will readily imagine my
astonishment when Captain Tessier arrived here (Liverpool) yester-
day afternoon, bringing me a letter from M. Arman, informing me
that he had sold both the rams and both the corvettes to " govern-
ments of the north of Europe," in obedience to the imperative orders
of his government. He (M. Arman) could not write particulars.
* * * Captain Tessier was charged to deliver further verbal
explanations as follows :

" M. Arman obtained his promised interview with the Emperor,
who rated him severely, threatened imprisonment, ordered him to
sell the ships at once, bond fide, and said if this was not done he
would have them seized and taken to Rochefort. Captain Tessier
also brought me word that the two corvettes at Nantes were ordered
to be sold, and the builders of those ships sent me by him a copy of
the letter of the Minister of Marine conveying the order to them.
The order is of the most peremptory kind, not only directing tiie
sale, but requiring the builders to furnish proof to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs that the sale is a real one. The Minister of Marine
writes the order in a style of virtuous indignation, specifies the large
scantling, the power of the engines, the space allotted to fuel, and
the general arrangements of the ships as proving their warlike char-
acter, and dogmatically pronounces the one to which he especially
refers " une veritable corvette de guerre." When you call to mind
the fact that this same Minister of Marine, on the 6th day of June,
1863, wrote over his own official signature a formal authorization to
arm those very ships with fourteen heavy guns each (canons raye de
trente), the affectation of having just discovered them to be suitable
for purposes of war, is really astonishing.*

" I certainly thought this kind of crooked diplomacy had died out
since the last century, and would not be ventured upon in these
common-sense days. Fortunately, I have a certified copy of the
permit to arm the ships, and I will get the copy of the indignant
order to sell them certified also. Captain Tessier saw Mr. Slidell in
Paris, who told him that he had been informed of the sale, and was
both astonished and indignant."

My first impulse was to resist and to take legal proceedings to

* See copy of official authorization, page 67.



464 Southern Historical Society Papers.

prevent the transfer of the ships to the purchasers, but a moment's
reflection satisfied me that such a course could not restore the ships
to us ; at least it was manifest that they could not be reclaimed for
use during the war. The proclamation of neutrality issued by the
Emperor of the French on the loth of June, 1861, contained a spe-
cific prohibition against any aid whatever being given by a French
subject to either belligerent, and if the government had determined
to enforce that prohibition strictly and literally, no effective resistance
could be offered, and no plausible evasion could be attempted.

In England, where in theory the law is paramount, and members
of the government had often declared that they neither could, nor
would, exceed the restrictions as prescribed by statute, we found that
pressure could, and did, overcome ministerial scruples, and that the
law might be, and was not only "strained," but that the judgment
of a court could be made inoperative by the interference of a Secre-
tary of State. In France, the neutrality laws were in themselves
more specific than the corresponding English act, but the power of
the executive government to modify or to enlarge the legal prohi-
bitions was far greater than in England, and while the permission or
the connivance of a Minister of State would condone any apparent
contravention of the law, his official prohibition would render an
appeal to it worse than useless.

When Captain Tessier brought me the unwelcome and discour-
aging report of the forced sale of our French ships, I was so fully
occupied with pressing affairs in England that it was impossible for
me to go to France at once, but I sent him immediately back with a
letter to Mr. Slidell, and with instructions to arrange with M. Arman
to meet me in Paris, and followed in a few days. A consultation
with Mr. Slidell resulted in nothing but the conviction that the Impe-
rial government had changed the views which had been previously
expressed, and that it would be impossible to retain possession of the
ships, or to prevent their delivery to the purchasers by any process
of law. It was manifest that the builders of the ships were as much
surprised and disappointed by the action of the government as we
were. They would not have undertaken the transaction unless they
had been impressed with the belief that the supreme government
fully understood and approved what they were doing, and they were
ready and willing to comply with their engagements, and to assume
any reasonable responsibility in the effort to fulfil them.

The course of the civil war about this time took an unfavorable



Building Confederate Vessels in France. 465

turn for the Conferlerate States, and the South began to show signs
of exhaustion, which were painfully manliest to those of us who were
conscious of the strain and the inadequacy of the means to resist it.

The apparent change in the probable result of the civil war, the
manifest evidence that the Mexican enterprise was bitterly resented
by the people of Mexico, and was also sorely vexatious to the ma-
jority in France, and the loss of prestige which failure in that expe-
dition would doubtless inflict upon the Imperial regime, must have
been very disquieting to the Emperior and to those immediately at-
tached to his person and his government. At the same time Great
Britain persistently declined to join with him in any act which might
tend to strengthen the South, or to bring pressure upon the United
States in respect to the recognition of the Confederate government,
and he did not therefore feel equal to the effort of maintaining his
position at home and abroad with the United States for an additional
and open enemy, and the South unable to assist.

I can think of no other causes why there should have been any
change in the policy of the Imperial government towards the South,
and as those causes are sufficient to account for a departure from a
course which was adopted for " reasons of State," we may assume
that "reasons of State" required the change. Nevertheless, it was
our duty to act up to the very end of the struggle as if final success
was assured, and to relax no effort that could in any way contribute
to that end, or which might strengthen the position of the Confed-
erate government in seeking the reparation which could have been
justly claimed from that of France for the injury inflicted upon the
South by the sudden and total change of policy.

There was no reason why the government at Richmond should
have refrained from making those transactions public at the time,
except that to have done so would have borne the appearance of
malice, and the effect would have been to alienate the sympathies of
the Imperial government, which Mr. Slidell was assured were still
with the South; but it cannot be doubted that if the Confederate
government had been able to maintain itself, and to achieve the inde-
pendence of the Southern States, some explanation of those arbitrary
and contradictory proceedings would have been required; at least,
thev would have been taken into account in settling the conditions of
a treaty of amity and commerce between France and the new Ame-
rican Republic.



466 Southern Historical Society Papers.



Two Addresses of President Davis to the Soldiers of the Confederacy.

[These ringing appeals of our Chief Magistrate to our soldiers
were issued, the first in August, 1863, and the second in February,
1S64. They are worth preserving as indicating " the situation " at
those imoortant periods of our history.]

ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT TO THE SOLDIERS OF THE CONFEDE-
RATE STATES.

After more than two years of a warfare scarcely equalled in the
number, magnitude and fearful carnage of its battles ; a warfare in
which your courage and fortitude have illustrated your country, and
attracted not only gratitude at home, but admiration abroad, your
enemies continue a struggle in which our final triumph must be in-
evitable. Unduly elated with their recent successes, they imagine that
temporary reverses can quell your spirit or shake your determination,
and they are now gathering heavy masses for a general invasion, in
the vain hope that by a desperate effort success may at length be
reached.

You know too well, my countrymen, what they mean by success.
Their malignant rage aims at nothing less than the extermination of
yourselves, your wives and children. They seek to destroy what
they cannot plunder. They propose, as the spoils of victory, that
your homes shall be partitioned among the wretches whose atrocious
cruelties have stamped infamy on their Government. They design
to incite servile insurrection and light the fires of incendiarism when-
ever they can reach your homes, and they debauch the inferior race,
hitherto docile and contented, by promising indulgence of the vilest
passions as the price of treachery. Conscious of their inability to
prevail by legitimate warfare, not daring to make peace lest they
should be hurled from their seats of power, the men who now rule in
Washington refuse even to confer on the subject of putting an end to
outrages which disgrace our age, or to listen to a suggestion for con-
ducting the war according to the usages of civilization.

Fellow-citizens, no alternative is left you but victory, or subjuga-
tion, slavery and the utter ruin of yourselves, your families and
your country. The victory is within your reach. You need but
stretch forth your hands to grasp it. For this and all that is neces-
sary is that those who are called to the field by every motive that can
move the human heart, should promptly repair to the post of duty,



Two Addresses of President Davis. 46*7

should stand by their comrades now in front of the foe, and thus so
strengthen the armies of the Confederacy as to insure success. The
men now absent from their posts would, if present in the field, su0ice
to create numerical equality between our force and that of the in-
vaders — and when, with any approach to such equality, have we
failed to be victorious ? I believe that but few of those absent are
actuated by unwillingness to serve their country; but that many have
found it difficult to resist the temptation of a visit to their homes and
the loved ones from whom they have been so long separated ; that
others have left for temporary attention to their affairs, with the in-
tention of returning, and then have shrunk from the consequences of
their violation of duty; that others, again, have left their posts from
mere restlessness and desire of change — each quieting the upbraidings
of his conscience by persuading himself that his individual services
could have no influence on the general result.

These and other causes (although far less disgraceful than the de-
sire to avoid danger, or to escape from the sacrifices required by
patriotism) are, nevertheless, grievous faults, and place the cause of
our beloved country, and of everything we hold dear, in imminent
peril. I repeat, that the men who now owe duty to their country,
who have been called out and have not yet reported for duty, or who
have absented themselves from their posts, are sufficient in number
to secure us victory in the struggle now impending.

I call on you, then, my countrymen, to hasten to your camps, in
obedience to the dictates of honor and of duty, and summon those
who have absented themselves without leave, or who have remained
absent beyond the period allowed by their furloughs, to repair with-
out delay to their respective commands ; and I do hereby declare that
I grant a general pardon and amnesty to all officers and men within
the Confederacy, now absent without leave, who shall, with the least
possible delay, return to their proper posts of duty, but no excuse will
be received for any delay beyond twenty days after the first publica-
tion of this proclamation in the State in which the absentee may be
at the date of the publication. This amnesty and pardon shall ex-
tend to all who have been accused, or who have been convicted and
are undergoing sentence for absence without leave, or desertion, ex-
cepting only those who have been twice convicted of desertion.

Finally, I conjure my countrywomen— the wives, mothers, sisters
and daughters of the Confederacy — to use their all-powerful influence
in aid of this call, to add one crowning sacrifice to those which their
patriotism has so freely and constantly offered on their country's



468 Southern Historical Society Papers.

altar, and to take care that none who owe service in the field shall be
sheltered at home from the disgrace of having deserted their duty to
their families, to their country, and to their God.

Given under my hand and the seal of the Confederate

[Seal] States, at Richmond, this ist day of August, in the year

of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three.

Jefferson Davis.
By the President:

J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State.



Soldiers of the Armies of the Confederate States :

In the long and bloody war in which your country is engaged,
you have achieved many noble triumphs. You have won glorious
victories over vastly more numerous hosts. You have cheerfully
borne privations and toil to which you were unused. You have
readily submitted to restraints upon your individual will, that the
citizen might better perform his duty to the State as a soldier. To
all these you have lately added another triumph, the noblest of human
conquests — a victory over yourselves.

As the time drew near when you who first entered the service
might well have been expected to claim relief from your arduous
labors and restoration to the endearments of home, you have heeded
only the call of your suffering country. Again you come to tender
your service for the public defence — a free offering, which only such
patriotism as yours could make — a triumph worthy of you and the
cause to which you are devoted.

I would in vain attempt adequately to express the emotions with
which I received the testimonials of confidence and regard which
you have recently addressed to me To some of those first received,
separate acknowledgments were returned. But it is now apparent
that a like generous enthusiasm pervades the whole army, and that
the only exception to such magnanimous tender will be of those who,
having originally entered for the war, cannot display anew their zeal
in the public service. It is, therefore, deemed appropriate, and, it is
hoped, will be equally acceptable, to make a general acknowledg-
ment, instead of successive special responses. Would that it were
possible to render my thanks to you in person, and in the name of
our common country, as well as in my own, while pressing the hand



Two Addresses of President Davis. 469

of each war-worn veteran, to recognize his title to our love, grati-
tude and admiration.

Soldiers! By your will (for you and the people are but one) I have
been placed in a position which debars me from sharing your dan-
gers, your sufferings and your privations in the field. With pride
and affection my heart has accompanied you in every march;
with solicitude it has sought to minister to your every want; with
exultation it has marked your every heroic achievement. Yet, never
in the toilsome march, nor in the weary watch, nor in the desperate
assault, have you rendered a service so decisive in results as in this
last display of the highest qualities of devotion and self-sacrifice
which can adorn the character of the warrior-patriot.

Already the pulse of the whole people beats in unison with yours.
Already they compare your spontaneous and unanimous offer of
your lives, for the defence of your country, with the halting and re-
luctant service of the mercenaries who are purchased by the enemy
at the price of higher bounties than have hitherto been known in
war. Animated by this contrast, they exhibit cheerful confidence
and more resolute bearing. Even the murmurs of the weak and
timid, who shrink from the triale which make stronger and firmer
your noble natures, are shamed into silence by the spectacle which
you present. Your brave battle-cry will ring loud and clear through
the land of the enemy, as well as our own ; will silence the vain-
glorious boastings of their corrupt partisans and their pensioned
press ; and will do justice to the calumny by which they seek to per-
suade a deluded people that you are ready to purchase dishonorable
safety by degrading submission.

Soldiers ! The coming spring campaign will open under auspices
well calculated to sustain your hopes. Your resolution needed noth-
ing to fortify it. With ranks replenished under the influence of your
example, and by the aid of your representatives, who give earnest of
their purpose to add, by legislation, largely to your strength, you
may become the invader with a confidence justified by the memory
of past victories. On the other hand, debt, taxation, repetition of
heavy drafts, dissensions, occasioned by the strife for power, by the
pursuit of the spoils of office, by the thirst for the plunder of the
public treasury, and, above all, the consciousness of a bad cause,
must tell with fearful force upon the over-strained energies of the
enemy. His campaign in 1864 must, from the exhaustion of his
resources, both in men and money, be far less formidable than those of
the last two years, when unimpaired means were used with bound-



470 Southern Historical Society Papers.

less prodigality, and with results which are suggested by the mention
of the glorious names of Shiloh and Perryville, and Murfreesboro,
and Chickamauga, and the Chickahominy and Manassas, and Frede-
licksburg and Chancellorsville.

Soldiers ! assured success awaits us in our holy struggle for liberty
and independence, and for the preservation of all that renders life
desirable to honorable men. When that success shall be reached, to
you, your country's hope and pride, under Divine Providence, will
it be due. The fruits of that success will not be reaped by you alone,
but your children and your children's children, in long generations to
come, will enjoy blessings derived from you that will preserve your
memory ever-living in their hearts.

Citizen defenders of the homes, the liberties, and the altars of the
Confederacy ! that the God whom we all humbly worship may shield
you with His fatherly care and preserve you. for safe return to the
peaceful enjoyment of your friends and the association of those you
most love, is the earnest prayer of your commander in-chief.

Jefferson Davis



Beast" Butler Outlawed.



[The following proclamation of President Davis should be pre-
served:]

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES — A
PROCLAMATION.

Whereas a communication was addressed on the 6th day of July
last ''1862), by General Robert E, Lee, acting under the instructions
of the Secretary of War of the Confederate States of America, to
General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief of the United States Army,
informing the latter that a report had reached this Government that
William B. Mumford, a citizen of the Confederate States, had been
executed by the United States authorities at New Orleans, for having
pulled down the United States flag in that city before its occupation
by the forces of the United States, and calling for a statement of the
facts with a view to retaliation if such an outrage had really been
committed under sanction of the authorities of the United States.

And, whereas (no answer having been received to said letter),



"■^ Beast'' Butler Outlaioed. 471

another letter was on the 2d of August last (1862), addressed by Gen-
eral Lee, under my instructions, to General Halleck, renewing the
inquiry in relation to the said execution of the said Mumlord, .with
the information that in the event of not receiving a reply within fifteen
days it would be assumed that the fact alleged was true and was
sanctioned by the Government of the United States.

And, whereas, an answer dated on the 7th August last (1862), was
addressed to General Lee by General H. W. Halleck, the said Gen-
eral-in-Chief of the armies of the United States, alleging sufficient
cause for failure to make early reply to said letter of 6th July,
asserting that " no authentic information had been received in rela-
tion to the executi&n of Mumford, but measures will be immediately
taken to ascertain the facts of the alleged execution," and promising
that General Lee shoaild be duly informed thereof

And, whereas, on the 29th November last (1862), another letter
was addressed under my instructions by Robert Ould, Confederate
Agent for the exchange of prisoners under the cartel between the
two Governments, to Lieutenant- Colonel W. H. Ludlow, agent of
the United States under said cartel, informing him that the explana-
tions promised in the said letter of General Halleck, of 7th of Au-
gust last, had not yet been received, and that if no answer was sent
to the Government within fifteen days from the delivery of this last
communication, it would be considered that an answer is declined.

And, whereas, by letter dated on the 3d day of the present month
of December, the said Lieutenant-Colonel Ludlow apprised the said
Robert Ould that the above-recited communication of the 29th of
November had been received and forwarded to the Secretary of War
of the United States.

And, whereas, this last delay of fifteen days allowed for answer has
elapsed, and no answer has been received

And, whereas, in addition to the tacit admission resulting from
above refusal to answer, I have received evidence fully establishing
the truth of the fact that the said William B. Mumford, a citizen of
this Confederacy, was actually and publicly executed in cold blood
by hanging, after the occupation of the city of New Orleans by the



Online LibrarySouthern Historical Society. cnSouthern Historical Society papers (Volume 14) → online text (page 49 of 61)