deferred among these 80,000 prisoners, will accuse them in the judgment of the just.
With regard to the prison stations at Andersonville, Salisbury,and other places south of Richmond, your committee have not made extended examination, for reasons which have already been stated. We are satisfied that privation, suffering, and mortality, to an extent much to be regretted, did prevail among the prisoners there, but they were not the result of neglect, still less of design, on the part of the Confederate Government. Haste in preparation; crowded quarters, prepared only for a smaller number; want of transportation, and scarcity of food, have all resulted from the pressure of the war and the barbarous manner in which it has been conducted by our enemies. Upon these subjects you committee propose to take further evidence and to report more fully hereafter.
But even now enough is know to vindicate the South, and to furnish an overwhelming answer to all complaints on the part of the United States Government or people that their prisoners were stinted in food or supplies. Their own savage warfare has wrought all the evil. They have blockaded our ports; have excluded from us food, clothing, and medicines; have even declared medicines contraband of war, and have repeatedly destroyed the contents of drug stores and the supplies of private physicians in the country; have ravaged our country, burned our houses, and destroyed growing crops and farming implements. One of their officers (General Sheridan) has boasted in his official report that in the Shenandoah Valley alone he burned 2,000 barns filled with wheat and corn; that he burned all the mills in the whole tract of country, destroyed all the factories of cloth, and killed or drove off every animal, even to the poultry, that could contribute to human sustenance. These desolations have been repeated again and again in different parts of the South. Thousands of our families have been driven from their homes as helpless and destitute refugees. Our enemies have destroyed the railroads and other means of transportation by which food could be supplied from abundant districts to those without it. While thus desolating our country, in violation of the usages of civilized warfare, they have refused to exchange prisoners; have forced us to keepf 50,000 of their men in captivity,and yet have attempted to attribute to us the sufferings and privations caused by their own acts. We cannot doubt that in the view of civilization we shall stand acquitted, while they must be condemned.
In concluding this preliminary report we will notice the strange perversity of interpretation which has induced the Sanitary Commission to affix as a motto to their pamphlet the words of the compassionate Redeemer of mankind:
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
We have yet to learn on what principle the Federal mercenaries, sent with arms in their hands to destroy the lives of our people, to waste our land, burn our houses and barns, and drive us from our homes, can be regarded by us as the followers of the meek and lowly Redeemer, so as to claim the benefit of his words. Yet even these mercenaries when taken captive by us have been treated with proper humanity. The cruelties inflicted on our prisoners at the North may well justify us in applying to the Sanitary Commission the stern words of the Divine Teacher:
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and them shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.