Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/148

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

dwellings, after their inhabitants have fled from the outrages of a brutal soldiery.

In 1781 Great Britain, when invading her revolted colonies, took possession of the very district of country near Fortress Monroe, now occupied by troops of the United States. The houses then inhabited by the people, after being respected and protected by avowed invaders, are now pillaged and destroyed by men who pretend that the victims are their fellow-citizens.

Mankind will shudder to hear the tales of outrages committed on defenseless females by soldiers of the United States now invading our homes; yet these outrages are prompted by inflamed passions and the madness of intoxication. But who shall depict the horror with which they will regard the cool and deliberate malignity which, under pretext of suppressing an insurrection, said by themselves to be upheld by a minority only of our people, makes special war on the sick, including the women and the children, by carefully devised measures to prevent their obtaining the medicines necessary for their cure. The sacred claims of humanity, respected even during the fury of actual battle, by careful diversion of attack from the hospitals containing wounded enemies, are outraged in cold blood by a government and people that pretend to desire a continuance of fraternal connections.

All these outrages must remain unavenged, save by the universal reprobation of mankind, in all cases where the actual perpetrators of the wrongs escape capture. They admit of no retaliation. The humanity of our people would shrink instinctively from the bare idea of waging a like war upon the sick, the women, and the children of the enemy.

But there are other savage practices which have been resorted to by the Government of the United States, which do admit of repression by retaliation. I have been driven to the necessity of enforcing this repression. The prisoners of war taken by the enemy on board the armed schooner Savannah, sailing under our commission, were, as I was credibly advised, treated like common felons; put in irons; confined in a jail usually appropriated to criminals of the worst dye, and threatened with punishment as such. I had made an application for the exchange of these prisoners, to the commanding officer of the enemy's squadron off Charleston harbor, but that officer had already sent the prisoners