Imagini ale paginilor


the principal for the service, and the principal has been compensated for the damage done him by ordering him into service. It would be competent, however, in estimating the damages in such case, to take into the account, the interest the principal has in the success of our cause, and the establishment of our independence, as necessary to the perpetuity of his liberties, and the security of all his rights. It would also be competent to inquire whether he has indeed suffered any pecuniary loss. If he has paid three thousand dollars for a substitute, and has been kept out of the army for that sum for one year, and during that time he has made ten thousand dollars more, by speculation, or otherwise, than he would have made had he been in the army at eleven dollars per month, the actual amount of compensation due from the Government to him might be very small indeed, if anything.

“ Believing that the public necessity requires it, and entertaining no doubt that Congress possesses the power to remedy the evil, without violating vested rights, I respectfully recommend the passage of a joint resolution by this General Assembly, requesting Congress to repeal that part of the conscript act which authorizes the employment of substitutes, and, as conscription is the present policy of the Government, to require all persons able to do military duty, who have substitutes in service, to enter the military service of the Confederacy with the least possible delay, and to provide some just rule of compensation to those who may be injured by the enactment of such a law. I also recommend that said resolution instruct our Senators, and request our Representatives in Congress, to vote for and urge the passage of this measure at the earliest possible day.”



Governor Brown took strong and decided ground against the practices of the Confederate military of indiscriminate seizure and impressment of private property, as follows:


" It is also my duty to call your attention to another matter considered by the people of this State a subject of grievance. The power is now claimed by almost every military commander to impress the private property of the citizen at his pleasure, without any express order from the Secretary of War for that purpose; and in many cases without the payment of any compensation -the officer, who is in some cases only a captain or lieutenant, giving a certificate that the property has been taken for public use; which seizure, after long delay, may, or may not, be recognized by the Government; as it may determine that the officer had, or had not, competent authority to make it.

“I am aware that the Constitution confers the power upon the Confederate Government to take private property for public use, paying therefor just compensation; and I have no doubt that every true and loyal citizen would cheerfully acquiesce in the exercise of this power, by the properly authorized and responsible agents of the Government, at all times when the public necessities might require it. But I deny that every subaltern in uniform who passes through the country has the right to appropriate what he pleases of the property of the citizen without being able to show the authority of the Government for the exercise of this high prerogative. As our people are not aware of their proper remedies for the redress of the grievances hereinbefore mentioned, I respectfully suggest, that the General Assembly, after consid

I eration of these questions, declare by resolution or otherwise, their opinion as to the power of the Confederate Government and its officers in these particulars. I also respectfully request that the General Assembly declare the extent to which the Executive of this State will be sustained by the representatives of the people in protecting their rights, and the integrity of the Government, and sovereignty of the State, against the usurpations and abuses to which I have invited your attention."

among the


One of the potent causes of irritation

poor men of the Confederate armies, and which was a fruitful and growing cause of discontent, was the small price paid to soldiers in actual service after the depreciation of the Confederate currency They began to compare their situation with the exempts and favored people at home, and to think of the insignificant purchasing power of the government currency; for instance, that a soldier's wages for a month would not buy a bushel of salt for his family or a decent pair of shoes for his wife. They began to murmur and complain, and to deluge the Governor of Georgia, whom they from the first regarded as a true friend, ever ready to aid them in all methods in his power. He made the effort in vain, through the Legislature, to induce Congress to stimulate and conciliate the army by an increase of the pay of soldiers.

The following pointed message upon that subject shows some, at least, of the powerfully working causes of the ultimate downfall of the Confederacy, and constitutes a vital part of the history of the struggle.



To the General Assembly:

“The armies of the Confederate States are composed, in a great degree, of poor men and non-slaveholders, who have but little property at stake upon the issue. The rights and liberties of themselves and of their posteritay are, however, involved; and with hearts full of patriotism, they have nobly and promptly responded to their country's call, and now stand a living fortification between their homes and the armed legions of the Abolition Government. Upon their labor their families at home have depended for support, as they have no slaves to work for them. They receive from the Government but

ven dollars per month, in depreciated currency, which, at the present high prices, will purchase very little of the necessaries of life. The consequence is, that the wives of thousands of them are now obliged to work daily in the field to make bread-much of the time without shoes to their feet, or even comfortable clothes for themselves or their little children. Many are living

upon bread alone, and feel the most painful apprehensions lest the time may come when enough even of this cannot be afforded them. In the midst of all the privations and sufferings of themselves and their families, the loyalty of those brave men to the Government cannot be questioned, and their gallantry shines inore conspicuously upon each successive battle field. Freemen have never, in any age of the world, made greater sacrifices in freedoms cause, or deserved more of their country or of posterity.

“While the poor have made and are still making these sacrifices, and submitting to these privations to sustain our noble cause and transmit the rich blessings of civil and religious liberty and national independence to posterity, many of the rich have freely given up their property, endured the hardships and privations of military service, and died gallantly upon the battle field. It must be admitted, however, that a large proportion of the wealthy class of people have avoided the fevers of the camp and the dangers of the battle field, and have remained at home in comparative ease and comfort with their families.

“If the enrolling officer under the conscript act has summoned them to camp, they have claimed exemption to control their slaves, or they have responded with their money, and hired poor men to take their places as substitutes. The operation of this act has been grossly unjust and unequal between the two classes. When the poor man is ordered to camp by the eorolling officer, he has no money with which to employ a substitute, and he is compelled to leave all the endearments of home and go. The money of the rich protects them. If the substitution principle had not been recognized, and the act had compelled the rich and the poor to serve alike, it would have been much more just.

“ Again, there is a class of rich speculators who remain at home preying like vultures upon the vitals of society, determined to make money at every hazard, who turn a deaf ear to the cries of soldiers' families, and are prepared to immolate even our armies and sacrifice our liberties upon the altar of mammon. If laws are passed against extortion, they find means of evading them. If the necessaries of life can be monopolized and sold to the poor at famine prices, they are ready to engage in it. If contributions are asked to clothe the naked soldier or feed his hungry children, they close their purses and turn away. Neither the dictates of humanity, the love of country, the laws of man, nor the fear of God, seem to control or influence their actions. To make money and accumulate wealth is their highest ambition, and seems to be the only object of their lives. The pockets of these men can be reached in but one way, and that is by the tax gatherer; and, as they grow rich upon the calamities of the country, it is the duty of patriotic statesmen and legislators to see that this is done, and that the burdens of the war are, at least to some extent, equalized in this way. They should be compelled to divide their ill.gotten gains with the soldiers who fight our battles; both they and the wealthy of the country, not engaged as they are,

should be taxed to contribute to the wants of the families of those who sacri. fice all to protect our lives, our liberties and our property.

“ I consider it but an act of simple justice, for the reasons already stated, that the wages of our private soldiers be raised to twenty dollars per month, and that of non-commissioned officers in like proportion, and that the wealth of the country be taxed to raise the money. I therefore recommend the passage of a joint resolution by the Legislature of this State, requesting our Senators and Representatives in Congress to bring this question before that body, and to do all they can, both by their influence and their vote, to secure the passage of an act for that purpose, and to assess a tax sufficient to raise the money to pay the increased sum. This would enable each soldier to do something to contribute to the comfort of his family while he is fighting the battles of his country at the expense of his comfort and the hazard of his life.

“ I respectfully but earnestly urge upon you the justice and importance of favorable consideration and prompt action upon this recommendation.

“Let the hearts of our suffering soldiers from Georgia be cheered by the intelligence that the Legislature of their State has determined to see that justice is done them, and that the wants of themselves and their families are supplied, and their arms will be nerved with new vigor when uplitted to strike for the graves of their sires, the homes of their families, the liberties of their posterity, and the independence and glory of the Republic.


The Legislature, by joint resolution, promptly united with the Governor in the justice and importance of the matter, and appealed in vain to the Confederate Congress to adopt it.

The efforts to increase the pay of soldiers was met by the Government with the presentation of the reason that it was ruinous to increase their pay, because the currency was already depreciated, and the depreciation would be increased with the increase of its volume thus to be rendered necessary. The troops in the army could not appreciate the reason while they could see it violated by the Government through its agents in every expenditure, except that of paying the soldiers in service. Agents were advancing prices rapidly for all government supplies, and competitors in market with ready government cash for

« ÎnapoiContinuă »