War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0281 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

some future time to re-enlist in the ranks of the armed defenders of their country, their resolution was not sufficient to resist the prospects cherished for months amid the suffering and monotony of the camps of returning to their homes and there temporarily enjoying their habitual comforts and pleasures. They had, too, for self-justification the plea that they had borne part of the burden and peril and that it was inequitable that numbers equally interested and capable, but only less bold or more prudent, should enjoy all the benefits without sharing in their trials and dangers. Our Army was in incipient disorganization, and on the eve of dissolution. The natural consequence ensued in a series of grave disaster. Reserve succeeded reserve. In the east, Roanoke Island, the key to the inland waters of North Carolina, was captured. We had to fall back from Manassas, abandon our defenses at Yorktown, and yield Norfolk with all the advantages of its contiguous navy-yard and dock. In the west, Forts Henry and Donelson fell, with the loss at the latter of the gallant force who had victoriously repelled till exhaustion disabled them to meet overwhelming numbers. All defenses on the Upper Mississippi had to be yielded or abandoned, and Nashville, the capital, and Memphis, the leading city, of Tennessee became the unresisting prey of the victors.

Finally, as the crowning stroke of adverse fortune, New Orleans, the commercial emporium of the South, with the forts that guarded the outlet of the great artery of trade in the West, after resistance so feeble as to arouse not lees of shame than indignation, passed into the occupancy of our foes. It was the darkest hour of our struggle, and with a people of less resolve and invincible spirit waging war against hosts avowing such malignant intents, it might well have caused discouragement and dismay. But to their honor be it said it only roused a more indomitable will and nerved to sterner struggles. I supreme effort of self-devotion and courage was recognized as necessary. The bill of conscription was passed and bravely accepted. Its first effect was to retain in the Army the soldiers whose terms of enlistment were just expiring. How great the sacrifice involved in the renewal of all their privations and dangers and the renunciation of their anticipated release and enjoyments may better be conceived than lees. Yet was there scarce a murmur of disappointment and disaffection, and not an instance, as far as known, of resistance or revolt. Scarce less meritorious was the action of the great body of the people who, with full realization of all to be encountered, yielded themselves or their dearest kindred to the call of their country's need.

The results worthily rewarded such sacrifices. The Army was speedily reorganized and recruited, and with sterner sense of the task and renewed hope it prepared to meet the explant foe. The rapidly concentration of the armies of General Sidney Johnston and General Beauregard, in the west, enabled them, with some approximation to equality of force, to strike a decisive blow and to win the brilliant victory of Shiloh, where the enemy was only saved from utter destruction by the hasty arrival of re-enforcement too numerous to be more than successfully repelled. In the east the happy boldness of General Magruder at Yorktown stayed at a critical time the advance of the grand Federal army destined for the capture of our Capital until our forces, rescued by the consummate strategy of General J. E. Johnston from the presence of enveloping armies, could arrive to the rescue. Signal checks given in partial battles at Williamsburg and