The war was a war between States regularly organized into two separate Federal republics. Eleven States on the one side, under the name and style of "The Confederate States of America," and twenty-two States on the other side, under the like name and style of "The United States of America." We may properly enough designate the partie's to the war that now ensued by terms "Confederates" and "Federals," tho the latter term will by no means correctly represent the principles of those thus designated. In the beginning, and throughout the contest, the object of the "Confederates" was to maintain the separate sovereignty of each State, and the right of self-government, which that necessarily carries with it. The object of the "Federals," on the contrary, was to maintain a centralized sovereignty over all the States, on both sides. This was the fundamental principle involved in the conflict, which must be kept constantly in mind. Mr. Lincoln, by his proclamation, had ordered an increase to the regular Federal army of 64,748 men, and an increase to the navy of 18,000 men. The regular Federal army, besides the volunteer forces called out, before this increase, consisted of about 16,000 men. The new force added by Presidential edict swelled the number of the regular army to about 80,748 men. The Federal navy, before the increase so ordered, consisted of about 10,000 men, exclusive of officers and marines. The total number of vessels of all classes belonging to this navy was ninety, carrying or designed to carry, about 2,415 guns. The increase of men under the Presidential edict ran the aggregate of seamen in service up to nearly 30,000.
The Confederates, on their assembling in Congress, on the 29th of April, as stated, went to work the best way they could to meet this formidable array of power against them. By Act of Congress they simply recognized the existence of war so inaugurated against them, excluding from their Act the States of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware. These they did not recognize as parties to the war. With this recognition of the war so forced upon them, they resorted to all the means at their command to repel it. At their first organization, less than three months before, they were without an exchequer, an army, or a navy of any sort, and without any munitions of war, except those which had fallen into the hands of the several States in the Federal forts, and which had been turned over to them, to be used in the common cause. The State of Alabama, on the first assembling of the convention, at Montgomery, had tendered them, for temporary use, a half million dollars, and, before the affair at Sumter, the Congress had provided, by law, for making a loan of *$151000,000, to repay Alabama's advance, and to meet other necessary emergencies. But now further means became necessary. To meet the forces arrayed against them a large army was necessary. To raise and equip this required much larger expenditures of money than the amounts at their command.
Another loan was authorized to the amount of $50,000,000. This was to be effected by the sale of Confederate State bonds, redeemable at the expiration of twenty years from their date, bearing an interest of 8 per cent. per annum. The same act authorized the issuance of twenty millions of treasury notes, in lieu of a like amount of bonds to answer the same purposes, if the Secretary of the Treasury and the President should deem it better to issue the treasury notes instead of making a sale of the bonds. Besides this, another measure was adopted, known as the Produce Loan. By this, invitations were given for contributions of cotton, tobacco, corn, wheat, flour, meat, and army subsistence generally, in the way of a loan. By the terms of the act, the articles so contributed were to be sold, and the proceeds to be turned over to the Secretary of the Treasury, who was to issue 8 per cent. bonds for the same. These were the extraordinary methods adopted for raising means, besides the other regular modes of providing revenue without resorting to direct taxation. So much for the financial measures of the Confederates, at present.
In view of the exigency for an immediate military force in the field, the Congress looked almost exclusively to the volunteer spirit of the people. By Act, they authorized the President to accept the services of 100,000 volunteers, either as cavalry, mounted riflemen, artillery, or infantry, in such proportions of these several arms as he might deem expedient, to serve for and during the war, unless sooner discharged. The Congress also provided for the appointment of five general officers, to have the rank of "General," instead of "Brigadier-General" as previously provided. This was to be the highest military grade known in the Confederate States service.
In lieu of a regular navy, their only resort was the enlistment of armed ships under letters of marque. Very soon quite a number of small vessels were thus put in commission, and reached the high seas by running the blockade. Among these may be named the Calhoun, the Petrel, the Spray, the Ivy, the Webb, the Dixey, the Jefferson Davis, the Bonita, the Gordon, the Coffee, the York, the McRae, the Savannah, the Nina, the Jackson, the Tuscarorabesides others. In less than a month, more than twenty prizes were taken and run into Southern ports. The steamers Sumter and Nashville, fitted out by the government, and under the command of naval officers, went to sea at a later date. The Sumter ran the blockade at the mouth of the Mississippi, on the 30th of June, in charge of Commander Raphael Semmes, a gallant officer who had resigned his position in the navy of the United States, and who thus entered upon that brilliant career in the Confederate service which has secured to him a lasting fame and renown. The Nashville was put in command of Captain Robert B. Pegram, another resigned officer of the United States Navy, of experience, skill, and distinction. It was several months later before Captain Pegram got his vessel out of the port of Charleston.
This "militia upon the high seas" captured many millions of the enemy's property, and produced a great sensation throughout the Northern States. As many as twenty prizes, and several prisoners, were taken by those which first got to sea, before the end of May. The Congress at Montgomery, by law, immediately provided for their proper treatment, which was in strict accordance with the usage and humanity of the most civilized nations. The Act directed that they should be treated "as prisoners of war," and "furnished with rations in quantity and quality as those furnished to enlisted men in the army of the Confederacy."
After these measures on the finances, the army, and the navy, the Congress adjourned on the 21st day of May, to meet again on the 20th of July, in the city of Richmond, Va., which was settled upon as the future seat of government.
In the meantime, the call which had been made for volunteers had been most enthusiastically responded to. Before the reassemblage of the Congress in Richmond, more than 100,000 men had prest the tender of their services in the cause, and more than 50,000 were under arms organized into battalions and regiments, and ready for duty in one part of the country or another. The largest number were collected in different places in Virginia, where the first blow from the enemy was expected.2
1 From Stephens's "War Between the States." Stephens was born in 1812 and died in 1883. He opposed secession in 1860, but afterward went with his State, Georgia. He served as vice-president of the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. After the war he served in Congress from Georgia, and was elected Governor of that State.
2 Mrs. Chesnut, wife of the Confederate general, James Chesnut, writes in her "Diary from Dixie," under date of February 4, 1861, at Montgomery, Ala., then the Confederate capital: "In Mrs. Davis's drawing-room last night, the President took a seat by me on the sofa where I sat. He talked for nearly an hour. He laughed at our faith in our own powers. We are like the British. We think every Southerner equal to three Yankees at least. We will have to be equivalent to a dozen now. After his experience of the fighting qualities of Southerners in Mexico, he believes that we will do all that can be done by pluck and muscle, endurance, and dogged courage, dash, and red-hot patriotism. And yet his tone was not sanguine. There was a sad refrain running through it all. For one thing, either way, he thinks it will be a long war. That floored me at once. It has been too long for me already. Then he said, before the end came we would have many bitter experiences. He said only fools doubted the courage of the Yankees, or their willingness to fight when they saw fit. And now that we have stung their pride, we have roused them till they will fight like devils."
A wise prophet, basing his prophecies upon the patent facts of the situation, could not have failed to foretell the outcome of such a war with precision and certainty. The utmost that the South could doeven by "robbing the cradle and the grave," as was wittily and sadly said at the time, was to put 600,000 men into the field, first and last. The North was able to enlist an aggregate of 2,778,304, or, if we reduce this to a basis of three years' service for each man, the Union enlistments for three full years numbered no less than 2,326,168or nearly four times the total enlistments in the Confederate army from beginning to end of the war. Yet the Confederate armies included practically every white man in the South who was able to bear arms. There was in effect a levy en masse, including the entire male population from early boyhood to extreme old age.
Again, the Federal Government had a navy and the Confederates none. It was certain from the beginning that the Federal authorities would completely shut the South in by blockading and closely sealing every Southern port. Thus the Federalsas was apparent in advancewere destined to have the whole world to draw upon for soldiers, for supplies, for ammunition, for improved arms, and for everything else that contributes to military strength, while the South must rely absolutely upon itselfill armed, and unequipped with anything except courage, devotion, and heroic fortitude.
There were no facilities at the South for the manufacture of arms. There was not an armory in all that land that could turn out a musket of the pattern then in use, not a machine-shop that could convert a muzzle-loading rifle into a breechloader, or give to any gun so much as a choke bore. There were foundries that could cast iron cannon of an antique pattern, but not one that could make a modern gun. There were machine shopsa very fewin which the Northern-made locomotives then in use on Southern railroads could be repaired in a small way, but there was not in all the South a shop in which a useful locomotive could be built. Nor were there any car-builders who had had experience in the making of rolling-stock fit for service.
In brief, the South was an agricultural region, accustomed to depend upon the North and upon Europe for its mechanical devices, and the outbreak of war was clearly destined to be the signal for the shutting off of both Northern and European supplies. Even in the matter of medicinesand greatly more soldiers die of disease than of woundsthe South had no adequate supply and no assured means of creating one for itself. Quinine, calomel and opium were scarcely less necessary than gunpowder and bullets to the conduct of military operations. Yet there was nowhere in the South a "plant" that could produce any one of those drugs. Nor was there anywhere a mercury supply from which calomel might be made. Early in the war it became impossible to procure so much as a Seidlitz powder in the South. There was nowhere a factory that could make a scalpel, to say nothing of more ingeniously contrived surgical implements. The materials for making gunpowder were so wanting that citizens were urged a little later to dig up the earthen floors of the smokehouses and their tobacco barns, and were instructed in the art of extracting the niter from them.
In the towns women were officially solicited to save their chamber lye and deliver it to the authorities in order that its chemicals might be utilized in the creation of explosives. Farmers were by law forbidden to burn corn-cobs in their fireplaces, and required to turn them over instead to the authorities in order that their sodas and potashes might be utilized in the manufacture of gunpowder. Women were urged to grow poppies and instructed in the art of so scarring the plants as to secure the precious gum from which opium could be made for the relief of suffering in the hospitals. They were taught also how to harvest and stew dogfennel in order to secure a substitute for quinine. The negro boys were set at work to dig up the roots of the dogwood, and women were taught to extract from the bark of such roots a bitters, which served as a substitute for the unobtainable quinine.
In short, at every point the South was lamentably lacking in supplies, and the blockade, established early in the war, forbade the incoming of such things as were needed except at serious risk of capture and confiscation. Even food supplies were from the first to the last meager. The South produced very little corn, pork, wheat, and the like, in comparison with the production of the great northwestern States, or in comparison with the need that was created by the enlistment of all the able-bodied white men of that region in the Confederate army.
Thus, the South was at a fearful disadvantage from the first; the wiser men of the South knew the fact in advance. They had courage, and they had little else. Their achievement in maintaining a strenuous war for four years in face of such disparities of force and resources, must always be accounted to their credit as brave and resourceful men.
It was certain from the first that the South must be beaten in its struggleunless by dash and daring it should win at once, or unless, by some remote chance, assistance should come from without. The chance of that was very small, but it existed as a factor in the problem. The chief hope the Southern people had of winning the war upon which they entered with courage and enthusiasm was born of the delusive belief that the god of battles awards victory, not to the strong, but to the righteous. They devoutly believed that their cause was righteous, and, in spite of all the teachings of history, they expected God to interpose in some fashion to give them the victory. They believed themselves to be battling for the same right of self-government among men that their Revolutionary ancestors had fought for, and they refused to recognize any disparity of resources between the contending forces as a sufficient reason for their failure under the rule of a just God in whose reign over human affairs they devoutly believed. . . .
The secession of Virginia made the war a fact and a necessity. So long as that had been delayed there had remained a hope of reconciliation and adjustment by peaceful devices. When that event occurred it was certain that the question at issue must be fought out upon bloody battlefields. The final stage of the controversy had been reached. The case had been appealed to the arbitrament of steel and gunpowder. Argument was at an end and brute force had come in as umpire. It was a melancholy spectacle over which the gods might well have wept. But men on both sides greeted it joyously, as if it had been a holiday occasion.
Mr. Eggleston was a native of Indiana, but had settled in Virginia for the practise of law before the war broke out. He enlisted in the Confederate army, and served there until the fall of Richmond. He came to New York after the war, and served many years on prominent newspapers. He wrote successful novels, and, near the end of his life, published a volume of reminiscences and his "History of the Confederate War."