An Aide-De-Camp of Lee
Charles Marshall

AN AIDE-DE-CAMP OF LEE

I
PREPARATION FOR WAR IN THE CONFEDERACY

ON the 21st of March 1862, I became a member of the personal Staff of General Robert E. Lee, who had just been appointed to the general command of the Armies of the Confederate States, subject to the direction of the President. Congress passed a law creating the office of General-in-Chief, which President Davis returned without his signature. His objection was that the law was unconstitutional inasmuch as it clothed the General-in-Chief with the power of a Commander-in-Chief, and that by the Constitution, he, Mr. Davis, was Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy.1

This law grew out of the conviction that had become very general among the people of the Confederate States, that Mr. Davis was not competent to direct the operations of the Armies. Some voted for the law, not with any intention of reflecting upon the President, but because they thought that the military affairs of the country were enough to absorb all the time and attention of its most skilful and experienced officers, and that it was too great a task for one man to assume their sole direction while burdened by the cares of civil administration.

It was not the intention of Congress, nor was it the effect of the law itself, to infringe upon the constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief. Officers had to be assigned to the command of each army and of extensive districts. It was impossible that the President should exercise a personal command over all the armies, and Congress only created a new grade in the service, which no more interfered with the constitutional power of the President than the assignment of an officer to the command of an army or department would do.2

The President was obliged to act as Commander-in-Chief through the officers at the head of the various armies. The law already provided for officers for that purpose, but there was no provision to enable the President to exercise his power over all the armies through an officer of competent rank, just as he exercised his power over any particular army. The law was designed to supply that deficiency, but the President considered it an infringement of his rights and powers. This was not the only instance in which Mr. Davis manifested an extreme jealousy of any encroachment upon his prerogative by Congress, and defended his constitutional rights with no less zeal and with more success than he defended the country itself. This is said in no spirit of hostility to Mr. Davis, but as it is my purpose to point out as far as I can the causes that led to the failure of the Confederacy, I shall speak plainly on all subjects that seem to me to have a bearing on the matter I have in hand.

Mr. Davis, soon after his refusal to approve the law, assigned General R. E. Lee to the command of the armies of the Confederate States, subject to the direction of the President. The only difference in the position of General Lee under this order and that which he would have held had he been appointed General-in-Chief under the law above referred to, was that he had no increase of rank by the order. His legal authority was the same, and in either case he could have had no legal power which would not have been subject to that of the President.3

The action of the President indicated very plainly his purpose to be an active agent in military affairs, and his indisposition to leave them in the hands of the officers of the army, subject to his general constitutional control. He showed that he wanted to be Commander-in-Chief not only in law but in fact. It was most natural, therefore, that General Lee, coming into command in such circumstances, with so pointed a declaration on the part of the President of the limits within which the powers of a General-in-Chief should be confined, and so distinct an avowal that he was under the actual and immediate direction of the President, should have observed very carefully the wishes and views so expressed, and submitted his judgment in all things to that of his superior. Of all men in the Confederate Army, none had a greater deference for authority or was more scrupulous in manifesting due subordination to superiors.4 It was natural then that General Lee became nothing but an adviser of the President. He was in fact an assistant Secretary of War. All papers relating to military matters of any sort received by the President, or by any member of the Cabinet, were referred to him to be answered, no matter how unimportant or purely personal might be their nature. I have had to answer great numbers of letters thus referred, which no more belonged to the province of a commander to answer than the most private personal letters. But as to military movements General Lee never did more than advise. He never on any occasion during the period of which I am speaking, so far as I can remember, ordered the movement of any part of the army without first submitting it to the President. And many and long were the conferences they held in the office of the President over movements recommended by General Lee or suggested by other officers.

I have heard the General say, after interviews of several hours’ duration with the President, that he had lost a good deal of time in fruitless talk. Not that he ever uttered a word that was disrespectful to the President. On the contrary, from first to last, I have never known him speak of that functionary in any other terms than those of official and personal respect and kindness. What I mean to convey is that the country was very far from enjoying the benefit of the ability and skill of General Lee in the manner that was contemplated by the law of Congress. The President continued to exercise direct control over army movements.5 General Lee did not take actual command of the armies of the Confederacy, but became the adviser of the President; nor was his advice uniformly followed.

After the order of March 13th 1862 appeared, Congress passed a law creating a staff for the officer on duty at the seat of Government under such an order.6 He was allowed a military secretary with the rank, pay, and allowances of a colonel of cavalry, and four aides-de-camp with the rank, pay, and allowances of majors of cavalry. To the former position Colonel A. L. Long, formerly of the U.S.A., was appointed. The aides were Majors W. H. Taylor, who also acted as Assistant Adjutant General, T, M. R. Talcott, C. S. Venable, and Charles Marshall. Four of these officers were from Virginia, the fifth from Maryland, though born and educated in Virginia where his family resided.7

At the time when General Lee entered upon the discharge of his duties in Richmond, the condition of affairs was most unpromising for the Confederacy. The enemy had effected a lodgment on the coast of North and South Carolina at points whence he threatened the lines of railway from Richmond to the South, thus rendering it necessary to employ a part of our force to guard those roads and prevent him from penetrating into the interior.8

In the west the fall of Forts Donelson and Henry, and the subsequent evacuation by General Albert Sidney Johnston of Kentucky and most of Tennessee, together with all the posts on the Mississippi to Memphis inclusive, had not only inflicted a great material injury upon us by depriving us of the supplies of a large and productive region in which were many manufacturing establishments of the utmost importance to the western armies, and placing a great number of people friendly to the South and willing to aid a prosperous cause, beyond the reach of our recruit-agencies, but it had done us a still more irreparable moral injury. The confidence and enthusiasm inspired by the issue of the first battle of Manassas were sensibly impaired, while the Northern people were elated in a corresponding degree. A powerful expedition was already to move against New Orleans, by land and water; in Virginia the force under General J. E. Johnston at Manassas was known to be inferior in numbers and equipment to that which General McClellan was preparing to move from Washington, and the people saw plainly that they had indulged in a false confidence as to the strength of our armies. Upon no subject had the public less accurate information both at home and abroad, and when the Army of Kentucky retreated, such had been the exaggerated estimate of its strength, that there was at first a general disposition to attribute the disaster to incompetency on the part of its able and faithful commander. It will be remembered how expression was given on the floor of Congress to this opinion by some who watched current popular feeling most closely, and were ever ready to avail themselves of it to obtain influence and popularity.

The politicians of the South had been influenced in initiating the secession movement largely by the expectation of foreign intervention, and with fatal tenacity these politicians adhered to this original error, to the neglect of those measures of defence which, taken in time, might have proved successful. I am fully aware of the advantage he possesses who speaks of what is past in the light of experience, over him upon whom devolves the duty of preparing to meet the unknown future. The critic can see in what has occurred what no human sagacity could have anticipated. But with reference to the subject about which I am about to speak, no such reply can be made by the political leaders of the South. There was at the time a division of opinion among them, and the majority, when adhering to the opinions upon which they acted in the beginning of the movement, had full warning of the consequences they might expect, and deliberately staked the issue upon the soundness of their views.

A gentleman who was certainly entirely in the confidence of the original secession leaders, and who played a most prominent part in the events of the day, told me in conversation that the war might continue during one campaign, but certainly would end before the spring of 1862. This conversation took place in May 1861, and the remark was made in reply to my question as to the probable duration of the war which was then just beginning. He said that accurate information had been obtained as to the quantity of cotton then in Europe, that the supply in the general course of business would be exhausted by the beginning of the ensuing February, and that then intervention would be inevitable.

As there is no violation of confidence in giving the name of my informant, I will state that it was the Hon. James M. Mason, late Confederate Commissioner in Europe. I dined with him in Winchester on my way from Baltimore to Richmond the Sunday after the people of Virginia had voted on the ordinance of secession (Sunday, May 26th). It may well be supposed that Mr. Mason was informed of the opinions of those with whom he had been so long acting in concert during the agitations that culminated in secession, and his subsequent selection to represent the views of the Confederate Government abroad justifies the belief that, in speaking of so important a subject as the duration of the war and the means by which it was to be brought to a close, he uttered not only his own views, but those of the Southern political leaders with whom he had been so intimately associated.


JAMES L. MASON

The Confederate Congress which assembled at Montgomery made but little preparation for war. In fact at that time and until after the battle of Manassas on the 21st July 1861, few persons, North or South, really believed that there would be a war, or that, if hostilities should occur, they would be either of great extent or long duration. Congress proceeded therefore to organise an army on a very limited scale, and when the preparations made by the United States for the first campaign rendered it necessary to make more extensive provision to meet them, a law was passed allowing the President to accept the services of volunteers for one year. The enthusiasm of the people, it was thought, would supply a force adequate to repel that which the United States Government was then preparing, and no further steps were taken. I think that in the circumstances this policy is no reflection upon the sagacity and foresight of the Confederate Congress. The want of preparation on the part of the United States at the time justified the Confederate authorities in the belief that they could concentrate at any place that might be threatened as rapidly as the enemy, and rendered it unnecessary to do more than collect an adequate force in front of that which the enemy was preparing. At that time, also, it was not difficult to know the intention of the enemy. Communication was comparatively open between the North and the South, and there was little effort made to conceal the plan of operations.

The Confederate Government was not therefore improvident in limiting its first preparations for war. But after the first battle of Manassas the aspect of affairs was completely changed. The Government of the United States appeared to be fully aroused. A call was made for men in numbers that amazed the world. At first the people and politicians of the South treated the subject with ridicule. It was believed to be impossible for the United States to assemble such a force as Mr. Lincoln summoned to the field. Calculations were made of the expense that would attend the formation of so vast an army, and it was confidently asserted that the credit of the United States would succumb. But as the season advanced those doubts were dissipated by events. Men came forward in such numbers and so rapidly that it was apparent that the large force called for by Mr. Lincoln would be raised.9 The whole North resounded with the notes of preparation for war on a most gigantic scale. The credit of the government was unimpaired by its great efforts. The capacity of public and private dockyards was strained to the utmost to launch in the shortest possible time a powerful navy. Resort was had to the vast mercantile marine of the North to obtain the means of transporting troops promptly to any point that might be selected for attack. The Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the Confederacy thus became as much exposed to attack as any part of the Northern frontier. It was no longer sufficient to place an army in front of Richmond, as Nashville, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and New Orleans were equally exposed, and equally required means of defence.

The preparations of the United States were well known to our authorities. In fact, they were made with so much ostentation as to raise a doubt in the mind of some whether it was not intended to intimidate our people by their very magnitude. But one fact was most apparent, and that was that our force was wholly inadequate to cope successfully with that of the United States. Yet during all the summer, autumn, winter, and part of the spring succeeding the battle of Manassas, the Confederate Congress did not pass a single law to raise an army except those to which I have referred as having been adopted at Montgomery. Its apathy was astounding. Volunteering had sensibly decreased since the summer of 1861, and nearly all the troops were enlisted for one year. On the 11th December, 1861, a law was passed by Congress to encourage the volunteers to re-enlist. A bounty of $50 and a furlough were offered to each man and the privilege of re-enlisting in his original or in any other command in any arm of the service which he might select. The law went further and authorised the formation of new companies, battalions, and regiments, to be composed of new recruits and the original volunteers. Authority to act under this law was given by the Secretary of War, and complaints began soon to be heard from the armies that the persons so authorised were canvassing the various commands to induce men to enlist in the new organisations they proposed to form.

Nothing could have been devised better calculated to disorganise the army and impair its efficiency than this law. Old regiments were to be broken up, the army to be thrown into a confused and disorganised mass, out of which, by the free action of the men, it was supposed that a new army would emerge at the expiration of the first year’s term of service. This period would arrive about the time when active operations might reasonably be expected to begin in the spring of 1862, and this new army, the organisation of which would be such as the personal inclinations of the men might induce them to adopt, was to be opposed to the army that was being carefully formed and efficiently instructed. The Confederate Congress not only adopted no effective measure to increase the strength of the army, but, actuated by the sole desire to retain men in the service, it sacrificed the efficiency of such men as it had.

The Hon. J. P. Benjamin, who was first Attorney General and then Secretary of State in Mr. Davis’ administration, writes to me of the effect of the legislation of Congress:—

As soon as war became certain, every possible effort was made by the President and his advisers to induce Congress to raise an army enlisted “for the war.” The fatal effects of enlistments for short terms, shown by the history of the War of Independence against England, were invoked as furnishing a lesson for our guidance. It was all in vain. The people as we were informed by the members would not volunteer for the war, but they would rise in mass as volunteers for twelve months. We did not wish them to rise in mass nor in great numbers for any such short term, for the reason that we could not arm them, and their term of service would expire before we could equip them. I speak from memory as to numbers, but only a moderate force was raised (all that we could provide with arms) for twelve months service, and thus a provisional army was formed, but the fatal effect of the short term of service, combined with the painful deficiency of supplies, were felt long before the end of the year. While the Northern States after the Battle of Manassas were vigorously engaged in preparing for an overwhelming descent upon Virginia, our own army was falling to pieces. In February 1862, the President’s message contained the following passages:—

“The active state of military preparations, among the nations of Europe in April last, the date when our Agents last went abroad, interposed unavoidable delays in the procurement of arms.10

“The policy of enlistment for short terms against which I have steadily contended from the commencement of the war, contributed in no immaterial degree to the recent reverse we have suffered (Roanoke Island and Fort Donelson), and even now renders it difficult to furnish you an accurate statement of the army . . . our high-spirited and gallant soldiers, while generally re-enlisting, are, from the fact of having entered the service for a short term, compelled in many instances to go home to make the necessary arrangements for their families during their prolonged absence. . . .”

“I deem it proper to advert to the fact that the process of furloughs and re-enlistment in progress for the last month has so far disorganised and weakened our forces as to impair our ability for successful defense, but this evil which I had foreseen and was now powerless to prevent may now be said to be substantially at an end.”

The foregoing sentences (the italics are my own) will show the condition of the army and the causes of that condition.

The representatives of the people could not be persuaded to pass measures unpalatable to the people; and the unthinking multitude upon whose voluntary enlistments Congress forced us to depend were unable to foresee or appreciate the dangers of the policy against which we protested. It was only the imminent danger of being left without any army by the return home in mass of the first levy of twelve-month volunteers that drove Congress into passing a law for enlistments for the war, and in order to induce the soldiers under arms to re-enlist we were driven to the fatal expedient of granting them not only bounties but furloughs to return from Virginia to their homes in the far South, and if our actual condition had been at all suspected by the enemy they might have marched through Virginia with but the faintest show of resistance.

As to supplies of munitions I will give a single instance of the straits to which we were reduced. I was Secretary of War ad interim for a few months, during which Roanoke Island, commanded by General Wise, fell into the hands of the enemy. The report of that General shows that the capture was due in great measure to the persistent disregard by the Secretary of War of his urgent demands for munitions and supplies. Congress appointed a committee to investigate the conduct of the Secretary. I consulted the President whether it was best for the country that I should submit to unmerited censure or reveal to a Congressional Committee our poverty and my utter inability to supply the requisitions of General Wise, and thus run the risk that the fact should become known to some of the spies of the enemy of whose activity we were well assured. It was thought best for the public service that I should suffer the blame in silence and a report of censure on me was accordingly made by the Committee of Congress.

The dearth even of powder was so great that during the descent of the enemy on Roanoke, General Wise having sent me a despatch that he was in instant need of ammunition, I ordered by telegraph General Huger at Norfolk to send an immediate supply; this was done but accompanied by a despatch from General Huger protesting against this exhaustion of his small store, and saying that it was insufficient to defend Norfolk for a day. General Lee was therefore ordered to send a part of his very scanty supply to Norfolk, General Lee being in his turn aided by a small cargo of powder which had just run into one of the inlets on the coast of Florida.11

Another terrible source of trouble, disorganisation, and inefficiency was the incurable jealousy in many states of the General Government. Each State has its own mode of appointing officers, generally by election. Until disaster forced Congress to pass the Conscription law, all that we could do was to get laws passed calling for certain quotas of troops from the states, and in order to prevent attempts made to create officers of higher rank than the Confederate officers, who would thus have been placed under the orders of raw militia generals, we resorted to the expedient of refusing to receive any higher organisation than a regiment. But the troops being State troops officered by the State officers, the army was constantly scandalized by electioneering to replace regimental officers, and Confederate Commanders were without means of enforcing discipline and efficiency except through the cumbrous and most objectionable expedient of Courts Martial. Another fatal defect was that we had no power to consolidate regiments, battalions, and companies. If a company was reduced to five men or a regiment to fifty, we had no power to remedy this. The message of the President of the I2th of August, 1862, showed the fatal effects of our military system, and a perusal of that message will shed a flood of light on the actual position of things and the hopeless helplessness to which the Executive was reduced by the legislation of Congress, and the restrictions imposed on his power to act efficiently for military success by the jealousy of Congress and the States. When I look back on it all, I am lost in amazement that the struggle could have been so prolonged, and one of the main, if not the main source of strength and encouragement to the Executive was the genius, ability, constancy, fidelity, and firmness of General Lee.

In short, Congress did not direct its efforts to a vigorous defence of the country by arms, but it looked to some other means of deliverance. The avowed intention of a large party at the North to control the action of Mr. Lincoln was discussed as if the issue were one of ordinary party politics. Most of all, the influence that the want of cotton would exert upon the chief manufacturing and commercial nations of Europe was looked to for a sure, speedy and satisfactory solution of the whole question. The Confederate Congress and a great part of the Southern people, encouraged by their representatives and by the press, were eager to adopt any theory that promised relief from the threatened danger other than recognition of the fact that their only safety lay in the vigorous use of the whole military resources of the country. In vain did event after event demonstrate the futility of those hopes of deliverance. They were adhered to with a tenacity which resisted at once the appeals of reason and the teachings of experience.

The long expected first of February 1862 arrived. The supply of cotton in Europe, according to all calculations, must now be exhausted, and intervention become inevitable. The increasing stringency of the blockade, aided by the efforts of the Confederate Government to prevent the exportation of cotton, soon began to make the want of that material felt, but before the end of 1861 the first Commissioners sent to Europe had returned and informed the people that cotton was no longer king.12

With February came the disasters on the coast of North Carolina, the loss of Kentucky, of the greater part of Tennessee, and the whole of the Upper Mississippi, and the approaching readiness of the large force on the northern border of Virginia to take the field as soon as the season for active operations should arrive.

The President issued a call for troops upon the Governors of the several States, but not until then. He too, like the Congress, had suffered the precious time for preparation to pass by, and made no effort to increase the army, except by obtaining volunteers, until the enemy, fully prepared, was advancing into the interior of the West, and threatening the capital itself. I should remark in this connection, that the State of Virginia, in which the reliance upon cotton had never been a controlling influence, impressed with the public danger, had already taken measures to bring her arm-bearing population into the field, and a law was passed on the 16th February, superior in some respects to the Conscript law subsequently adopted by the Confederate Congress. The call of the President was however too urgent in its nature to allow the troops to be assembled under the law of the State, and the Governor ordered out the men capable of bearing arms at once, endeavouring to comply as nearly as possible with the intention of the legislature as indicated by the Act.

The actual strength of the Confederate armies in the field, however much it might have been exaggerated among the people and by the enemy, was well known to the Confederate authorities. The force under General J. E. Johnston at Manassas was known to be far inferior to the army under General McClellan at Washington. The army under A. S. Johnston in Kentucky was as well known to be inferior to that which was preparing to move against it, and was, moreover, stretched over a large extent of country, from the Mississippi to the Virginia border. On each frontier the appearance of a design to resist the enemy was kept up, and not only our own people but the enemy and the world were deceived, and there is reason to believe that the Confederate Government expected to attain its purpose by this show of force and appearance of ability to meet the enemy at all points of its frontier. Such a picture of affairs would, it was hoped, justify foreign governments in recognising the Confederacy, and it was confidently believed that the exhaustion of the supply of cotton abroad would induce them to avail themselves of any defensible pretext to adopt measures that would re-open the cotton market of the South. The letter of General A. S. Johnston to President Davis, published after the fall of that lamented officer at Shiloh, indicates very clearly the explanation that he had received of the policy of the Government. He had been impressed with the importance in a political point of view of presenting a bold front to the enemy in Kentucky, and of appearing to be able to hold his own line.13

So also with General J. E. Johnston in Virginia. These officers were not instructed to maintain their positions until they could be reinforced, for I have shown that no adequate or efficient measures were adopted for that purpose. But they were to impress the enemy and the world with the belief that they would resist an advance and that they possessed the means to do it. When the advance took place these impressions were dissipated in a moment.

It cannot be supposed that the Confederate Government believed that the vast force that was being prepared would not be used against it. The solution is to be found in the radical and fundamental error of those who initiated the secession movement. . . . They believed the Northern people would not unite in supporting the war. They saw them actually supporting the war with singular unanimity. In fact the Government of Mr. Lincoln at the outset took efficient measures to deprive the South of this hope by the adoption of a policy which, whatever else may be said of it, was eminently wise in a military point of view. That Government threw aside the ordinary restraints upon its operations which were observed in times of peace. It did not stop to argue with those who opposed its measures, but forced them to acquiesce, or put it out of their power to offer effectual opposition. Southern politicians fell into the error of reasoning about the action of the Northern people as if the war had made no change. They continued to talk of parties, and to speculate about the probable action of their former political associates, as if those parties remained unchanged and possessed the power they had formerly exercised. The only exposition of the intentions and actions of the United States Government to which the South could look, and upon which it could safely form its own policy, were the declarations and measures of that Government, which had shown very plainly that it would tolerate no opposition from parties at home.

The other and principal cause of neglect to make adequate preparations was, as I have indicated, the confident belief that the want of cotton would compel foreign nations, particularly England and France, to intervene and stop the war. I have said that the time at which it was believed that such intervention would become inevitable had been designated by Mr. Mason as the month of February 1862. It is remarkable that Mr. Davis did not issue a general call for additional troops until this time, and it is equally remarkable that the enemy selected that month, unfavourable as it was in many respects for military operations, for the advance of his Western Army. Both facts would seem to indicate that each party was influenced by the same motive.14


JEFFERSON DAVIS

Mr. Davis had found that he had waited for intervention until it would be unsafe to wait any longer; the time had arrived when the cause upon which he relied should have produced its full effect, and yet there were no indications of foreign aid. The North, on the other hand, knowing that the pressure upon foreign governments would reach its maximum about that time, and that the continuance of the semblance of ability on the part of the Confederacy to defend its frontiers would afford encouragement and justification to England and France to act under the pressure, was desirous of demonstrating that the South could not cope with her, and of deterring the governments of these countries from involving themselves in the contest by a display of its power to bring the war to a successful conclusion.

It will be remembered how anxiously both sides awaited news from Europe during the period of which I am speaking. Not a skirmish took place that the people of the North and South, especially the latter, did not listen, erectis auribus, for the English and French comments upon it. Every utterance of the press of those two countries was quickly republished, eagerly read, and anxiously commented upon by both.

I remember when the news from Europe would absorb the attention of all parties in the Confederacy to the exclusion of important military events at home.15

The communications of Mr. Davis to Congress will be found to be devoted more largely to the subject of foreign recognition than to the war itself. Every man who observed the course of events in the South during this period is aware how entirely our people had accustomed themselves to look for intervention, and discuss the probability of its occurrence. I conclude then that the failure of the Confederate Government to make timely and adequate preparation for the campaign that opened in 1862 proceeded from its confidence that foreign nations would intervene before that campaign should open, and that the Northern people themselves would not unite in supporting the war.

It will doubtless be said that the people of the South were not then prepared to make the exertions and sacrifices which the full development of their military resources would have demanded; that they were only brought subsequently to make those exertions and sacrifices by the presence of imminent danger and the policy of the Northern Government. I am aware that throughout the whole war there was manifested by the Confederate Government a reluctance to try the patience and zeal of the people. It was often said during the war that the people were always in advance of the Government. Everyone remarked how the people clamoured to be taxed to save the country when a timid Congress was hesitating to impose taxes. This indisposition to exert its power, so often manifested by the Confederate Government, was a natural consequence of the theory upon which that Government was formed. Recognising no power to coerce a state, holding that any state might nullify a law of Congress, and that the league rested entirely in the consent of the parties composing it, the Confederate Government endeavoured to shape its policy so as to conciliate the States and secure their acquiescence in its measures. This was an inherent weakness of the theory of the Government, but there can be no doubt that it was carried further than was necessary by the Government of Mr. Davis. The people would have done more than the Government required of them, and had Congress boldly thrown itself on their patriotism at this time, they would have responded most cheerfully.

But if it be true that they were not prepared at the time for the exertions they subsequently made, and would not have patiently submitted or cheerfully supported any measures deemed necessary for the common defense, the Government itself was the cause of such a state of feeling. It had in every way sedulously fostered the belief that the war would be short, and intervention certain. In fact, the party in the Southern States which desired separation as a positive benefit, independently of any cause for such a measure (and that party was small), always regarded it as certain that the South would shape the policy of the manufacturing nations of Europe by means of cotton alone. They never believed that the war would ensue upon separation, and when it came they could not be persuaded for a long time that it would be of long duration. Unfortuftately, as those who entertained this very mistaken opinion had been most active in trying to effect a dissolution of the Union, they acquired a fatal influence in the early management of the affairs of the Confederacy, and imparted into its councils that blind confidence in their views as to the effect of secession and the influence of cotton, which paralyzed the efforts of the Southern people at the beginning of the war.

Strange as it may appear, the influence of these narrow theories did not cease to be felt long after events had demonstrated that the South must rely upon her own efforts exclusively. After the fall of Corinth16 a proposition was made by persons within the Federal lines, who asserted that they acted under the authority of a notorious military character in the U. S. service, to exchange several millions of pounds of provisions and flour for cotton, the provisions, etc., to be delivered within our lines on or near the lower Mississippi River. They furnished such evidence of their ability to do this without interruption from the Federal authorities, if not by their direct connivance, that the proposition was submitted to and considered by the Confederate Government. But it was rejected by the President, because it would be a departure from the principle he had laid down that it was impolitic for us to permit our cotton to go out of our lines, especially when it was to go directly to the enemy. The cotton was afterwards burned or captured.

In confirmation of the fact that the parties who made the proposition could have carried it into effect, I can state that during the autumn of 1864 and the winter of 1865 quite a large traffic of the same kind took place, to some extent under my control, by order of General Lee, to whom the matter was entrusted. The persons engaged on the Federal side professed to act under the authority of the same person who had previously given his consent to the Mississippi traders. Their operations were conducted quite openly by means of steamers ascending the Blackwater and Chowan Rivers.