Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/264

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

nor is there any reason to suppose that the conduct of Benjamin F. Butler has failed to secure from his Government the sanction and applause with which it is known to have been greeted by public meetings and portions of the press of the United States. To inquiries made of the Commander in Chief of the armies of the United States whether the atrocious conduct of some of their military commanders met the sanction of that Government, answer has been evaded on the pretext that the inquiry was insulting, and no method remains for the repression of these enormities but such retributive justice as it may be found possible to execute. Retaliation in kind for many of them is impracticable, for I have had occasion to remark in a former message that under no excess of provocation could our noble-hearted defenders be driven to wreak vengeance on unarmed men, on women, or on children. But stern and exemplary punishment can and must be meted out to the murderers and felons who, disgracing the profession of arms, seek to make of public war the occasion for the commission of the most monstrous crimes. Deeply as we may regret the character of the contest into which we are about to be forced, we must accept it as an alternative which recent manifestations give us little reason to hope can be avoided. The exasperation of failure has aroused the worst passions of our enemies. A large portion of their people, even of their clergymen, now engage in urging an excited populace to the extreme of ferocity, and nothing remains but to vindicate our rights and to maintain our existence by employing against our foe every energy and every resource at our disposal.

I append for your information a copy of the papers exhibiting the action of the Government up to the present time for the repression of the outrages committed on our people. Other measures now in progress will be submitted hereafter.

In inviting your attention to the legislation which the necessities of our condition require, those connected with the prosecution of the war command almost undivided attention. The acts passed at your last session intended to secure the public defense by general enrollment, and to render uniform the rules governing troops in the service, have led to some unexpected criticism that is much to be regretted. The efficiency of the law has been thus somewhat impaired, though it is not believed that in any of