War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0280 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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rior, in all the elements of strength to what it has been at any previous period of the war. Its numbers, though still seriously inadequate to fill fully its organizations, yet afford a nearer approximation than heretofore to that result. When, in addition, it is considered that a large proportion of these consist, not of new recruits, but of soldiers inured to the exposure of service and made veterans by the ordeal of constant danger, its superior endurance and stability must readily be acknowledged. It is not deemed requisite to state its precise aggregate nor to detail the exact proportions of its respective branches of service. It may be sufficient to say generally, in respect to the latter, that it is believed they exist in such respective proportion as approved military judgment considers most primitive of efficiency and co-operation. The Army thus constituted, could it be recruited and maintained to its full complement, would, in all probability, be the largest in proportion to population ever maintained in actual service by any nation, and would attain the maximum which the productions and resources of even the wide, expansive, and fertile regions of the Confederacy would, without oppressive exactions on the people, render judicious to sustain. Nor, when it is recollected how, with numbers much short of this standard of completion, it has in the past generally wrested victory from the far superior forces of the enemy and repelled the horde of invaders on which, with the presumptive insolence of anticipated success, our foes have relied to overwhelm us, can it be doubted that such an army would be fully adequate to all future needs and exigencies and sufficient to assure final peace and independence. To secure the completion of its numbers reliance must be placed on the measures of legislation known popularity as the acts of conscription, approved, the one on the 16th of April, 1862, and the other on the 27th of September, 1862. By the first of these acts all the male citizens of the Confederacy, capable of bearing arms, between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, with a few guarded exceptions, were constituted soldiers of the Provisional Army and devoted first to filling up the ranks of the old organizations. The was one of the most remarkable ordeals to which the patriotism and self-devotion of any people were ever subjected. It was demanded by the imperious necessity of the crisis. Without decadence of the real valor of our people or their invincible determination to achieve their independence, the first flush of enthusiasm and the rush of volunteers, fired by threatened invasion, had comparatively ceased, and, not unnaturally, under experience of the diseases, privations, and hardships of a soldier's life and the influence of delusive hopes of a speedy peace inspired by early victories, the spirit of volunteering had died out.

While, however, the ardor of the individual did not suffice for the proffer of self-devotion, the sentiments and convictions of the mass recognized as the most sacred obligation the stern duty of defending, if needed be, with their entire numbers their imperilled liberty, fortune, and homes. They were engaged in a righteous war for all men hold dear. Foes as malignant in intent, as unscrupulous in means, with numbers unexampled in modern war, aided by patient training, complete organization, and all the appliances of military science, were pressing on for their subjugation or extermination. The contrast presented at the same time by our banded forces was not less striking than discouraging. The periods of enlistment of more than two-thirds of our soldiers were very near their termination, and it was manifest that, notwithstanding the ulterior purpose of the great majority at