Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/319

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
289
First Congress.

most constantly maintained, and after the spilling of so much blood they are to-day in this respect in a situation which has not sensibly changed. Nothing authorizes the prevision that more decisive military operations will shortly occur. According to the last advices received in Europe, the two armies were, on the contrary, in a condition which permitted neither to hope within a short delay advantages sufficiently marked to turn the balance definitely and to accelerate the conclusion of peace.

As this Government has never professed the intention of conquering the United States, but has simply asserted its ability to defend itself against being conquered by that power, we may safely conclude that the claims of this Confederacy to its just place in the family of nations cannot long be withheld, after so frank and formal an admission of its capacity to cope on equal terms with its aggressive foes, and to maintain itself against their attempts to obtain decisive results by arms.

It is my painful duty again to inform you of the renewed examples of every conceivable atrocity committed by the armed forces of the United States at different points within the Confederacy, and which must stamp indelible infamy not only on the perpetrators but on their superiors, who, having the power to check these outrages on humanity, numerous and well-authenticated as they have been, have not yet in a single instance of which I am aware inflicted punishment on the wrongdoers. Since my last communication to you one General McNeil murdered seven prisoners of war in cold blood, and the demand for his punishment has remained unsatisfied. The Government of the United States, after promising examination and explanation in relation to the charges made against General Benjamin F. Butler, has by its subsequent silence, after repeated efforts on my part to obtain some answer on the subject, not only admitted his guilt but sanctioned it by acquiescence, and I have accordingly branded this criminal as an outlaw,[1] and directed his execution in expiation of his crimes if he should fall into the hands of any of our forces. Recently I have received apparently authentic intelligence of another general by the name of Milroy who has issued orders in Western Virginia for the payment of money to him by the inhabitants, accompanied by the most savage threats of shooting every recusant, besides burning his house, and threat-


  1. See page 269.
19